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Jadeveon Clowney has been much better this year than you think


Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The hype machine has gotten ahold of Clowney, leading some fans to label him as overrated or a bust. That hasn’t been the case through two games.

Other than perhaps Johnny Manziel, no player in college football has been critiqued more than South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

With so much talent comes scrutiny, and Clowney has certainly received his share of it through the first two weeks of the season. With a camera following No. 7 wherever he goes on (or next to) the field, it’s easy to draw quick conclusions. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that Clowney has been much better than you think in 2013.

Against North Carolina and Georgia, Clowney officially racked up six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and three hurries. He had six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and two hurries at the same point last year, and that was after facing Vanderbilt and East Carolina. There were no potential first-round offensive linemen like James Hurst on ECU’s line last year.

While he’s repeating his 2012 production, it’s also important to remember that Clowney didn’t have nearly the same hype in his a sophomore year. It’s not like SEC coaches completely ignored him in their gameplan, but there’s no denying everything centers around Jadeveon now. He’s going to get every team’s best shot each week.

Kevin Weidl, a college football and NFL Draft analyst with ESPN, noted how Georgia avoided Clowney’s side of the field whenever they could.

Georgia began the game with two straight rushes away from Clowney, in fact. As for pass-rushing, Weidl finds it’s even better than you’d think, if you only looked at the stats Clowney’s officially credited with:

Another frequently discussed topic is conditioning. Any time Clowney leaves the field, it seems there’s a camera on him with his hands at his hips. At 6’6 and 274, he’s going to get tired. Everyone playing football gets tired. Watch all of his on-field plays, as Garnett and Black Attacked detailed, and it’s tough to not be impressed. You’ll also likely count more hurries than the three that went in the box score.

This is not to say Clowney has been perfect this season. He’s been flagged, has become overzealous in ball pursuit and has appeared winded at times, partly because of an illness and ankle injury. He has been better than you might’ve thought, though, and his stock now should be just as high as it was when the season began nearly three weeks ago.