Usually college coaches gush with praise when asked about former players who are now touted draft prospects, but both UCF head coach George O’Leary and South Carolina Gamecocks head man Steve Spurrier didn’t have the best effusive praise for prospects Blake Bortles and Jadeveon Clowney respectively.
While I personally believe that the knocks on Clowney for a lack of work ethic and college production last season are grossly overblown, Spurrier didn’t exactly extinguish the work ethic concerns. I think his comments will also be overblown, but it was still interesting to see him give toned down, down-to-earth (then again, that’s exactly what he’s known for) evaluation of Clowney’s work ethic. He told NFL AM, via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith, “He was OK. It wasn’t like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little different,” Spurrier said. “His work habits are pretty good, they’re not quite like Lattimore, maybe Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he’s got something no one else has.”
Ingram and Lattimore are two of the hardest-working players in the NFL, so it’s not like those were fair comparisons anyway. Clowney has a ridiculous amount of talent ,and Spurrier backed him up on both his talent and gave the right response when asked why Clowney didn’t have as many sacks.
“Even though his production this year wasn’t near what it was last year, he had two or three guys waiting on him just about every play,” Spurrier said. “His run defense was very good, though, and he chased down a bunch of guys and made tackles. His sacks — he had to run around two or three guys just about every game. I don’t think teams will quite do that in the NFL, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Right on. Right. On. Clowney is probably the best run defender in the class, and he’s certainly the most talented prospect in the class. Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton have him to thank for a lot of their production, and it would be ridiculous to dock Clowney by box score scouting (seriously, that’s the worst kind of “scouting” there is). “OK” work ethic or not, Clowney is the most talented prospect in the class, and it would be a shame for him to slip out of the top five.