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SEC Media Days 2013: Jadeveon Clowney is the Story, Mostly Because of The Hit

The player aiming for South Carolina's second Heisman Trophy has become the poster child for what's right in college athletics

Jadeveon Clowney is surrounded by reporters Tuesday at SEC Media Days
Jadeveon Clowney is surrounded by reporters Tuesday at SEC Media Days
Brandon Larrabee

For once at SEC Media Days, Steve Spurrier might not have been the most exciting part of the day he showed up. Or even the most exciting figure on his team that day.

Don't take that the wrong way -- Spurrier was still the most entertaining of the four mostly dull, predictable coaches that showed up on Monday. Asked about his fiftieth high-school reunion: "It was sort of quiet," Spurrier said, drawing laughter. He added, drawing more laughter: "I thought it was going to be a little louder. Looked around at 9:30, half of them had already left. I said, Where did everybody go?"

Perhaps to watch The Hit again. And The Hit is why Steve Spurrier was perhaps not the most anticipated person to visit the Wynfrey Hotel on Tuesday. That honor probably went to Jadeveon Clowney, who pureed Michigan's Vincent Smith with a tackle that has been played over and over (and over) on ESPN ever since.

The moment has vaulted Clowney into the thick of the discussion of the Heisman Trophy race, giving him a chance to bring that award to Columbia for just the second time in the program's history. And it's still getting attention.

"I was just happy at first. ... Now, it's like aw, man, it's like still going on," Clowney told reporters Tuesday.

Of course, Clowney's legend has only grown since then. Spurrier and the defensive lineman said today that Clowney ran a 4.4 40-yard dash. Clowney has begun identifying quarterbacks he believes are afraid of him -- with most of the argument raised about those comments centering around whether every quarterback is afraid of Clowney.

I don't know why people just tweet crazy things. All you've got to do is think about it. Everybody's going to see what you tweet -Jadeveon Clowney

And yet, even when he does that, even when he singles out a rival signal-caller as someone who fears him, Clowney seems not so much arrogant as confident.

"That was my goal, to come in and be No. 1 and leave No. 1," Clowney said. "So eveythring that's happening to me now is just the greatest feeling ever."

Spurrier applauds Clowney for largely keeping his head down during an offseason that has been, um, tumultuous for some of the other candidates for the Heisman this year. Let's just say they play in a town that rhymes with Pollege Pation.

"Jadeveon has done an excellent job staying out of the limelight all summer," Spurrier said. "He's been a good teammate. He's been there for the workouts. He's been there doing what he's supposed to do."

Hordes of reporters crowded around the Clowney's table during player interviews Tuesday, some of them undoubtedly hoping to turn Clowney into the hero in their narrative about that other SEC Heisman contender. But Clowney wouldn't bite -- saying in so many words that Johnny Manziel's business is Johnny Manziel's business -- but gave the beat writers the scrap they'll likely need to write hundreds of columns comparing the two.

"Stay off Twitter," Clowney said when asked how he kept out of trouble. "Fifty percent of that is, stay off Twitter. ... I don't know why people just tweet crazy things. All you've got to do is think about it. Everybody's going to see what you tweet."

(Clowney also said he avoided bars.)

As for The Hit, it remains a pivotal moment in the lore of the three-season, 31-win tear that the Gamecocks are currently on, and one that other players are practiced at talking about. The stories just add to the overall stature of the event.

"I actually didn't see it, I heard it," said wide receiver Bruce Ellington. "It was so loud, like, I jumped back."

Like everyone else, Ellington found out back in January that Clowney demands attention. Even if he does it in a way that's far quieter off the field than on it.