Hoover, AL (WLTX) - A comfortable, confident Jadeveon Clowney greeted reporters Tuesday for SEC Media Days, and says he's ready for what is expected to be his final--and perhaps trophy filled--season with the Gamecocks.
The junior defensive end for South Carolina is on everyone's All-America and watch lists for 2013.
Clowney said one of the big differences for this year is that he's going to guide and direct players a bit more, rather than just being the most talented player on the team.
"I came in, young guy, I came up behind a lot of older guys now it's my turn to take the leadership role," he said.
He's also learned how to take the attention he gets in stride. Wednesday, he's needed in New York for ESPN's the ESPY awards. Many are suggesting that depending on how he performs, Clowney could become the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman this year. (Charles Woodson was a defensive back when he won at Michigan, true, but he also played on special teams)
Clowney, though, says high expectations are just something he's grown accustomed to.
"I'm getting comfortable now, it's been going on for a while, so it doesn't really bother me any more," he said.
Maybe he's even enjoying it a bit too. When asked about reports that he's been able to run a the 40-yard dash in 4.46 second (an almost unreal figure for a man his size) he beamed when he confirmed the news.
"It's great too, I feel good about myself," Clowney said.
And speaking of physical triumphs, he of course was asked about his now famous hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in last year's Outback Bowl. The collision has been replayed on national media over and over again (and online millions of times over) and has earned him a nomination for the ESPY awards Wednesday night.
"Everywhere I go people talk about it, it's the craziest thing that's ever happened for me," he said.
But here's what's most amazing--Clowney's not sure it's his hardest hit ever.
"When I was in high school I hit this guy from Lancaster on a punt block--I almost killed him. I almost hurt myself too though. He didn't get up but I walked to the sideline I was like blacked out myself. It was a great hit."