Jadeveon Clowney is South Carolina’s latest frequent flyer.
A quick glance at Twitter reveals the young man is tired, no surprise after his school record-setting season for sacks.
Up to early long night about to head to the airport. Smh
— carolina_7all day (@clownejd) December 4, 2012
I’m sure @Sacmanjones_29 shares a similar sentiment.
Both Clowney and Georgia’s Jarvis Jones are finalists for a number of awards this week, but it’s doubtful either of the two will win. That’s what happens when a senior linebacker on the nation’s top-ranked defense garners most of the vote, fair or not.
The SEC’s two best defenders have to be worn out mentally. Forget the flights to Houston and Orlando, pointless award dinners prior to exam week that feature another player crowned must be numbing. Clowney and Jones are tired of being shafted for individual honors by Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.
On Monday in Charlotte, Te’o edged Clowney and Jones for the Bronco Nagurski award given to college football’s top defensive player. Earlier that evening, Te’o took home the Butkus as the nation’s top linebacker.
Wrap your mind around those.
The infatuation with Touchdown Jesus is a disservice to the SEC East’s two best players.
Clowney commands constant double teams, has had his jersey stretched throughout the season and still led college football’s torch-bearing conference in sacks (13). Jones’ 22.5 tackles-for-loss is tops in the nation, one more than Clowney. South Carolina’s All-American sophomore has played in 11 games, two fewer than Jones and one less than Te’o.
But the heart and soul of the Irish defense trumps both according to voters. Notre Dame’s goal line stands against Stanford and Southern Cal hold more weight. The triple-overtime win at home against 6-6 Pittsburgh was a signature afternoon. Later this week, Te’o is expected to sweep two more prestigious honors — the Bednarik (outstanding def. player) and the Lombardi (top lineman or linebacker). Can’t say I’ll be surprised.
Te’o has been able to tug on the heartstrings of voters this season as a vocal leader on Notre Dame’s best team in nearly 20 years. No longer are postseason awards based on statistics and what’s done on the field, rather hype and team success.
Te’o, in fact, may collect everything this week. Triple-digit tackles and seven picks could be good enough for the trophy every football players wants — the Heisman. Clowney and Jones aren’t the only SEC players playing second fiddle to the Fighting Irish mystique. Johnny Football, the South’s winner of the Heisman popularity contest, may not be able to stiff arm or juke No. 5 either.
Photo Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports