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Stephon Gilmore is mentoring Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney Getty Images

As former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney prepares to enter the NFL draft as a high first-round pick, another former South Carolina player who was a high first-round pick is helping Clowney out.

(No, it’s not Troy Williamson.)

Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore tells the team’s official website that the 2012 first-round selection has been giving advice to Clowney.

“We went to the same high school and played two years in college together,” Gilmore said.  (Actually, it was only one.)  “In my hometown we stay like five minutes away from each other. So he’s always hitting me up and asking me what the pre-draft process is about.”

Gilmore explained that the criticism of Clowney isn’t affecting him.

“He’s the type of player where people can talk, but he’s still going to do his thing and have fun,” Gilmore said.  “He’s a great dude and keeps a level head.  Like I tell him just keep working hard and everything else will take care of itself.  He doesn’t really like to listen to negative talk.  Just go out and play.  That’s his approach.”

Gilmore wasn’t surprised by Clowney’s speed at the Scouting Combine.  Gilmore saw it in high school, regularly.

“I knew he was going to work out well because he was the last leg of our 4×100 relay team,” Gilmore said.  “I knew he was going to run fast.”

Gilmore, or someone else, also should have known that Clowney had nowhere to go but down after he emerged a year ago as the consensus top pick in the 2014 draft.  Barred from entering the 2013 draft due to an unfair rule that requires all football players to wait three years after high school before joining the NFL, the questions about Clowney’s work ethic wouldn’t have emerged quite so strongly — or possibly at all — if he’d merely decided to take the season off and spend his time working out privately and without undue injury risk in preparation for his pro football career.

Would there be questions about his desire to play football if he’d taken the year off?  Sure, but only because teams hoping that a guy will slide into their clutches will cling to anything that could cause the teams at the very top of the draft to pass on a great prospect.  The reality is that Clowney would have been thinking not like an athlete but a student if he’d opted to recognize that, as NFLPA executive director candidate Sean Gilbert says, football is a game but the NFL is a business.

College football is a business, too.  And playing another year of college football for no financial compensation did nothing to help Clowney’s draft stock.  If anything, another year of college football damaged it.

One of these days, a college football player who believes his NFL standing can’t get any better will drop the mic and walk away.

He’ll be criticized and vilified.  He’ll also be praised by at least one NFL media outlet (this one) for treating a supposed game precisely like the thing that it actually is.

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9 Responses to “Stephon Gilmore is mentoring Jadeveon Clowney”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 28, 2014 12:50 PM

    He really doesn’t like the negative talk? Thanks for giving a tip on how to get into his head for the other 31 teams that won’t have him. Just have to make sure he can hear that negativity loud and clear.

    I had him as #1 on the board if he quit college football last year and didn’t create additional red flags off the field and spent all that time to train for his new pro team without any risk of health or wear and tear. That ship has sailed and sunk.

    But if Clowney wants to prove that he is the real deal, then good mentorship is exactly what he needs the most. If he can get the right support and keep his head in a good place then there’s no reason for him to fail. He will only become a bust if he chooses so or makes poor decisions as to who is support people are. Those are the questions teams need to be delving into to see where his mind is at and who is influencing him and how.

  2. godofwine330 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:07 PM

    Troy Williamson. Wow. I will never forget when Williamson was drafted and Corey Chavous, who was an amateur scout in his free time when he was playing and does it full time now, was still playing for the Vikings. He was a guest on one of the networks when the pick was read and he had the stone cold stoic face because he had just gotten finished talking about how bad the guy’s tape was and he didn’t think that he above a 2nd round talent.

    It is great that Clowney is getting guidance from somewhere. I hope he listens. As amazing talent, but without the consistent effort he could be the next Haynesworth. I’d say don’t give the critics the ammunition.

  3. willycents says: Feb 28, 2014 1:08 PM

    “an unfair rule that requires all football players to wait three years after high school”
    I for one have minimal problems with the three year rule. The focus of the media seems to be on the football skills of the player. There is also the maturity aspect to consider. Do we need more immature millionaires to deal with in the league and the press? A lot of maturing goes on between 18 and 21

  4. EJ says: Feb 28, 2014 1:44 PM

    If a player stays in shape and continues his education, then skipping your last year of College football to better your chances in the NFL doesn’t sound too far out there.

  5. djshnooks says: Feb 28, 2014 2:05 PM

    He didn’t say he didn’t like the negative talk…he said he doesn’t listen to it.

    Big difference.

    Do you think anything you have to say to him from your seat you paid for in a stadium, as he stands on the actual field as a paid player…will effect him whatsoever?

    Doubtful.

  6. doe22us says: Feb 28, 2014 2:15 PM

    Unfair rule, many have gone through the process, also a lot of these players have the mental capacity of a midget. Will 3-4 yrs help some mature? Sure, early entrants are definitely not physically ready, and mentally ready, in my opinion.

  7. suite34 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:10 PM

    Amen, brother. Clowney (and Manziel) had nothing to gain by playing for free last year. Each could have hired specific coaches to help them refine their craft and have one less year of wear-and-tear on their bodies. It’s just good business.

  8. rjt34 says: Feb 28, 2014 3:24 PM

    Now someone needs to mentor Gilmore!!!

  9. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 28, 2014 3:45 PM

    Good take, PFT, you nailed it.

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