COLUMBIA, S.C. – Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has people talking again — and for a reason few expected when his junior season kicked off six weeks ago.
The South Carolina All-American pulled himself from the lineup Saturday night a short time before a 35-28 victory over Kentucky, saying pain from strained muscles around his ribs was too much to bear.
It is the latest in a season of illness, injuries and ineffectiveness for the 6-foot-6, 274-pound Clowney, who figured to dominate the game like few others in college football. Instead, Clowney has spent more time explaining why he hasn’t popped off more helmets, as he did in his ESPY-winning hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith at the Outback Bowl that was practically shown on a nonstop highlight reel this past offseason.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was unsure if Clowney would be ready to go against Arkansas on Saturday.
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Spurrier said his frustration came more from the way he learned Clowney would be out rather than him missing the game.
“Usually, the doctor or the trainer comes and tells you a guy will be out,” he said. “That did not happen last night. On the other side, if a player’s in pain, I don’t want him to play. None of us do.”
When asked about Clowney’s commitment to the Gamecocks, Spurrier replied, “You’ll have to ask him that.”
Spurrier has kept Clowney at a distance from most media since early August, letting him speak only after games. Spurrier said that policy would change this week to give Clowney a chance to explain his injury.
Before the season, Clowney looked like a surefire No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Clowney’s conditioning was questioned by some analysts in the opening game with North Carolina on a hot August night. More questions came a week later when Georgia’s Aaron Murray, who Clowney joked during the summer was among several quarterbacks scared of him, led the Bulldogs to a 41-30 victory.
Bone spurs in Clowney’s right foot — a problem he has had since high school — have bothered him all year. He needed an IV preparing for Central Florida two games ago because of a stomach bug.
On Tuesday, Spurrier defended Clowney, saying he has “got two guys blocking him about all the time.”
• Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has a well-timed bye week to recover from his latest seizure.
Team spokesman Paul Rovnak said Kill stayed at home Sunday to rest. Kill, 52, had an episode the day before that kept him from traveling to the game at Michigan, a 42-13 loss.
Kill has said he would leave the job if his epilepsy interfered too much with his performance or the success of the program. This was his second game-day seizure this season and the fifth in three years at Minnesota.