After the Houston Texans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, former South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney didn’t get off to a great start.
Injuries wiped out most of his rookie year and he only managed to play in 13 games as a second-year player in 2015.
By that time, Clowney had plenty of critics, with many calling him a bust. However, last year, the ex-Gamecock appeared in 14 games and recorded six sacks, showing flashes of brilliance.
Now, as he prepares for the 2017 season, Clowney told the Houston Chronicle that he’s still motivated by the hate he’s received since 2014:
“Oh yeah. I keep it on my shoulder,” Clowney said. “I know where I was a couple years ago, how people talked about me, so every day I step on the field, I just take that and put it in the back of my head and grind and work through everything I got going on that day. That’s my mindset. That’s in the back of my head, what people said.”
As people were starting to call him a bust, Clowney said he never felt anything but love coming from inside the Houston locker room, which motivated him even more to get healthy and show what he could do:
“That one kind of gave me, like all right, let’s go to work,” Clowney said. “Let’s really, really go to work, get up off this couch, a couple years back. Just to prove to those guys, really, I wasn’t really proving to them, really didn’t want to let my family and everybody down, and my teammates.
“They already knew what I had in me. I came in camp, had a good camp early on before I got hurt and they were like, ‘Just get back healthy. We know what you can be and everything.’ They stuck with me and just worked my tail off to get back.”
The Texans defense is expected to be one of the NFL’s best in 2017, and having a healthy Clowney will only help them reach that goal.