Should Jadeveon Clowney sit out the 2013 football season?

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The NFL requires college football players to wait three years after graduating high school before entering the draft not for their own good, but for the good of college football.  With South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney possibly the first overall pick in the 2013 draft if he were available to be drafted but still one year removed from being eligible, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer has raised an intriguing question.

Should Clowney sit out the 2013 college football season, for his own good?

Clowney should look no farther than former teammate Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a serious knee injury during his third season after leaving high school.  Lattimore’s draft stock has taken a major hit because of it, and it’s unclear whether he’ll ever reach his full potential at the next level.

Most college football players major in playing football, even though a small percentage of all college football players ever play professionally.  If a player is ready not only for the NFL but also to be the taken at the top of the draft, why risk serious injury by playing for free?

Let’s not get bogged down by the “free education” excuse.  What Clowney gains in 2013 by playing for South Carolina is outweighed dramatically by the risk.  Sure, he’ll purchase an insurance policy to replace the money he’d lose if he suffers a career-ending injury.  But if he’s injured, he’s injured.  And if it impacts his ability to thrive in the NFL, no insurance policy will change that.

As Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino routinely tells players in whom the NBA is interested, “You can stay and help my family, or you can go and help your family.”  In Clowney’s case, he could be helping himself and his family more by sitting out a season.

Of course, an unconventional decision to not play football this year could impact the manner in which NFL teams regard Clowney.  Apart from the fact that he’d be out of sight for 2013, some coaches and scouts may have concerns about a guy whose love of football has been overcome by his own financial interests.

Still, those financial interests reside at the core of the football business.  With the NFL erecting artificial barriers aimed at ensuring the supply of players for its free farm system won’t be disrupted, one of the best college football players in the nation needs to realize that his decision to participate in college football this year constitutes a business decision, too.

As crazy as it may sound on the surface, Clowney’s best play could indeed be to not play at all.

45 responses to “Should Jadeveon Clowney sit out the 2013 football season?

  1. I’m not sure if he should sit it out or not but it does show how the current system is broken. I doubt that Clowney is a serious student anyway and should be allowed to go pro now.

    Many baseball players go pro right after high school.

  2. Heck no, Clowney should not sit out. And if Marcus Lattimore is so concerned about his status in the upcoming draft, he needs to go back to USC for his senior year and prove that he’s all the way back. A third round pick in 2013 is not going to get as much money as a first round pick in 2014.

    Clowney sit out the year? Nonsense!

  3. Like it or not players are supposed to go to college to get an education not audition for the NFL. If Clowney sits out this year for no other reason than to insure he doesn’t get hurt then he should be made to pay full price for his education this year.

  4. All he needs to do is take out an insurance policy. Or more likely his parents should get insurance on him. Then if he gets seriously injured, he gets paid anyway.

  5. I believe anyone who disagrees with this article do so for emotional and selfish reasons. They have no real concern for this kid or his family. No amount of insurance will get this kid the financial windfall he is certain to have if he went pro this season. It is unlikely that a college degree will earn him that kind of money as well.
    Like it or not football is a business and everyone involved has their own enterprise to be concerned with. If the kid sat out, it would be radical but extremely intelligent. Yeah injury is a hazard of football, but why rusk injury for free and have little to nothing to show for it?
    That said, I doubt he will sit. He will be too concerned with dominating in the now rather than focus on his future. That to is a hazard….. of youth.

  6. It’s not about education. It’s about maturity.

    MLB players are drafted after high-school. But, they have to go through years in the minors before they reach the major league level. Those seasons spent in random cities, driving cross-country on buses with your team and dealing with the trials and tribulations of growing up and living on the road…that’s what builds maturity in baseball players.

    The NFL, as powerful as it is, no longer has a minor league that it can pawn younger, rawer players off to. That’s something that they should definitely consider.

  7. This is crazy. What percentage of college athletes suffer serious or career ending injuries? My guess is less than 1% of 1%.

    Also, I hope he has a full load of classes designed solely on how to manage and invest money.

  8. Like it or not players are supposed to go to college to get an education not audition for the NFL.

    Say whos? What a ridiculous statement. No one goes to college for the actual education. They go because it’s a stepping stone to their actual goal — a well-paying job.

    Whether you’re going to college to get a little piece of paper that you can attach to your resume, or you’re going because you’re auditioning for a career in the NFL — it’s really the same thing in the end.

    College is not a destination. It’s a means of reaching your destination.

  9. Dead wrong. Only 2 issues here. Money and a successful football career. The money will be covered by the insurance policy. The football career has a much better chance with another year of work and improvement. Sitting out a year is a great way to derail a promising career. Injury can happen at anytime. Even his first year in the NFL. Would you suggest sitting out his first year in the NFL to prevent injury?

  10. the reason for 3 years of college football is to protect players from themselves. for every one kid -clowney- who is physically ready for the nfl, there is 100 who think they are. more likely to get injured in the nfl because of not being physically ready. in that case most of the kids would get 1 payday, and unless theyre first rounders it wont be that big

  11. Wow profootballtalk, your basically saying that getting an education is not worth as much as his potential contract in the NFL? Let’s ask how well half of these athletes fair after their careers are over. How many of them are successful after they stop playing ball. Ask some of these NFL team owners how important school was to their success, and how good a degree would of been to these players that are broke now after making $40 million plus. This is just stupid to say.

  12. 1. With the new collective bargaining agreement, the pay is not as good for rookie players. Losing the number 1 or number 2 pick and dropping to 7th or 8th (obviously he would drop further if he had a career threatening injury) isn’t as much of a big deal anymore as it was 3 years ago.

    2. I’m assuming this guy actually likes to play football, and has friends on the team. Why give up one of the 20 years (max) you get to play this game and let down your teammates in the process?

    3. He’s not a running back. He has much less likelihood of suffering a serious injury at the position he plays (not saying it can’t happen, just less likely).

  13. There is also a chance that he plays this year so tentatively while worrying about an injury that his draft stock plummets anyway.
    Tough call but a football player should play ball.

  14. I think it may hurt him more to sit out. He can always stay in shape by working out independently but nothing is worth more than actual game experience. He might be physically tougher or stronger but the NFL is a completely different game when it comes to size, speed, and schemes.

    If does sit out and he somehow doesn’t make a big splash like everyone thinks then he’ll always be criticized for following the money rather than developing himself further.

  15. highly doubt that this kid is pursuing an education here. if he gets hurt and collects insurance on what, a million dollars? thats a joke. Lock for a first 5 pick and looking forward to a 15-22 million dollar contract. The reality is this kid is gonna have to play and assume the risks to pursue that contract. If he sits out, he might lose stock and lose much more money as a potential top 5 pick. Rookie wage scale works against him as well. So play out the season, get drafted high, and if he performs as expected, he will get that mega contract extension after 3 years in the league. That is structure and you’re going to have to play by the rules of the game to win.

  16. Quinton Coples and the whole UNC starting defense sat out… and all are doing pretty well in the pros.

  17. You guys are talking like another good prospect coming out from college and not realize he may be the best defensive prospect ever, there is a big difference in that, his best decision is to sit out.
    He might be the first pick overall or he might not but a top 3 pick is a lock regardless if he plays or not.

  18. He’d just end up costing himself money. No NFL team is going to invest a high pick in a player who hasn’t played in a year, regardless of their talent. And that’s not just speculation; there’s a track record — albeit a small one — of it playing out that way.

    So, yeah, maybe you sit out and stay healthy, but you end up getting drafted far lower than you otherwise would and having to spend four years in the pros proving yourself before you can get paid. And guess what? There’s a risk of injury during those four years.

    I fail to see the upside to sitting out.

  19. While he admittedly doesn’t come across as such, JD is an intelligent young man who loves the game. There is absolutely zero chance he takes a year off, but he does intend to leave after next year if the circumstances are still what they appear to be now.

  20. I don’t think Cloney should sit out a year but it is something he should consider. Everyone keeps bringing up Mike Williams, but what about Dez Bryant? If you have the talent and you actually work on your skills during the time off I think you’d be fine.

  21. Hey ajb3313,

    how many NC defensive players got drafted first two rounds after sitting out a year? AJ Green, WR for the Bengals ring any bells?(4th overall) Clowney could sit a year, be the first defensive player off the board, and make enough money to return to whatever college he chooses. He could play, set records, and go #1 overall. He could play, shred his ACL, and go 3rd round and flame out. No matter what it’s a risk.

    Leaving when your stock is the highest can be great. Barkely should have left last year. Locker should have left his Jr. year. Anyone remember Brian Brohm? Should have followed Petrino. Gabbert left when his stock was high and got himself a top 10 pick.

    And for the guy saying only 1% of 1% suffer season ending injuries, consider the average IR amount for an NFL team is 9-11 players by the end of the year. Not exactly 1% of the 1% – more like 10%. It happens every year – players get hurt. ACL’s and MCL’s pop, bad concussions, ruptured Achilles, broken bones. It’s football.

  22. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he sits out next season to avoid injury, but injures himself in a pickup basketball game, or by tripping over his dog, or by falling down the stairs while sleepwalking, etc?

  23. Not the worst idea for him but future NFL teams would have to expect multiple contract hold-outs using the same reasoning for not playing out the last two years of his contract etc…

  24. they should start some sort redshirt rule. like if he were to come out this year he would go first this year to the Chiefs but he wouldn’tbe able to practicethe same as the rest of the team. idk just an idea that could be worked out

  25. I say any athlete who receives a scholarship should be required to stay for the full four years or until they graduate. It really sucks that so many athletes get a free ride to college when they have no intention of trying to get an education and just want to play sports when others are going thousands of dollars in debt trying to get an education. Those scholarships should go to those who will use them wisely. The NFL and NBA can create a minor league for those who don’t want to go to college for an education.

  26. being a USC alum and seeing every down this kid has ever played, id be shocked if he suffered a major injury. hes just such a beast nobody ever gets a really good shot at him, comparing a DE to SEC running back is not really a fair comparison in terms of chances of serious injury

    he could still tear an ACL, but i still think he would go top 5

    dude is going to be the best player in the NFL one day just watch

  27. I have now heard it argued more than once that he should sit around and wait for his pay day. It is a terrible argument. He should play, build his tape, stay in shape, learn more about the game and make himself more valuable.

    I’ve also heard it as a reason that the NFL should move the line back to allow players in sooner. Most of the time it is from the same talking heads complaining about how the one and done rule is ruining college basketball.

  28. the second this guy sits out a year like you suggest, gossip girl, youll have the next article all typed up about how this kid truly doesnt love the game of football and no team should want a guy with his character

  29. This is why the NFL needs to fund a viable minor league system for players not interested in classes, not smart enough (cough *SEC* cough), or have already exhausted their eligibility. By the time school is over, they’re in their athletic prime and may not have had the opportunity to reach the NFL.

    Oh, I forgot, the NFL teams and owners are very poor and can barely turn a profit. That’s why they need to go hat in hadn and ask for public money for their workplace.

  30. It’s really unfair, that without meeting and interacting with J. Clowney the assumption has been made that because he’s a tremendous football player, he too can’t have an interest in academia. (I googled it and there are a couple stories about poor performance in HS, but he also went to Military Academy to raise his GPA and qualify)

    How often do you watch interviews of players and are blown away by how intelligent they clearly are? Conversely how taken aback can you be, when other guys says things, like scrip club, and mines?

    Judging books by their cover have caused a lot of issues thru the annals of time. Let’s try to be a little bit more forward thinking, please.

  31. All of this talk is just the opinion of sports writers and fans. Hes already tweeted that he’ll stay in college for 2 more years. Meaning that he WILL play next year and his senior year after that.

  32. Regardless if he stays or leaves it is pretty sad when the Kardashians, people who have no talent, get paid tens of millions while the guys with talent are paid in crumbs.

  33. Maybe he should stop bathing so he doesn’t fall in the tub, or stop eating so he doesn’t choke.

    Life is a crapshoot, but you can’t live in fear of everything.

  34. It would be cool if the NFL had a higher rookie salary scale for those players who stay four years in college and graduate.

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