Jadeveon Clowney not impressed with 'short' Nick Saban, 3-4 defense
The nation’s consensus No. 1 player in 2011, Jadeveon Clowney eventually selected home-state South Carolina ahead of national powerhouse Alabama.
Many figured coach Steve Spurrier and the chance to play in the SEC for the nearby Gamecocks made sense. The Tide can’t win ’em all, right?
Well, according to a new book, “Saban: The Making of a Coach,” two things steered Clowney away from Tuscaloosa and toward South Carolina — Nick Saban and the 3-4 defense.
The so-called Lord of the Living Room has strung together a number of No. 1 overall recruiting classes for the Tide, but his visit to Clowney’s home in December 2010 didn’t go so well.
“I don’t see no big deal like everybody else. They’d say, ‘He’s the king of all of football.’ The guy ain’t nothing but 5-5. He’s a short guy. Everybody’s going crazy on Nick Saban,” Clowney said in the book, according to The State newspaper.
“He talked the whole time he was there. I was dozing off. He can talk. A lot. He talked for a whole straight hour.”
In addition, Clowney said he would’ve committed to Alabama “a long time ago” if the team ran a base 4-3 defense instead of a 3-4. (Ironically, the 266-pound Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft, now plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.)
Jokes about Saban’s height aren’t new or original, but it’s funny — and a bit bizarre — coming from a standout pass rusher of Clowney’s caliber rather than an opposing fan. It’s also difficult to imagine that Spurrier kept his mouth shut and did a lot of listening when the Head Ball Coach visited the Clowney resident, but perhaps that was a key to landing the five-star player.
Alabama’s 2011 defense was one of the best in college football history, averaging 8.2 points allowed per game and allowing just 72.2 rushing yards per contest. Clowney made 8 sacks as a true freshman, and it would’ve been fun to see him as part of the ’11 and ’12 Tide national championship teams.
Still, he made what looks like a wise choice to go to South Carolina. The defense suited his physical attributes and led him to become the most coveted player in the ’14 NFL draft, and the Gamecocks won a combined 33 games while Clowney was in Columbia, S.C.