Clowney, underclass set to take on SEC - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SEC football: The next big thing

South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney could be the next superstar in the SEC. (Source: WISTV) South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney could be the next superstar in the SEC. (Source: WISTV)
SEC play begins Thursday, with No. 9 South Carolina facing Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. ET. (Source: MGN) SEC play begins Thursday, with No. 9 South Carolina facing Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. ET. (Source: MGN)
  • AlabamaMore>>

  • Parents say MCSD should increase safety measures after mass FL shooting

    Parents say MCSD should increase safety measures after mass FL shooting

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 6:36 PM EST2018-02-21 23:36:59 GMT
    (Source: WTVM)(Source: WTVM)

    Parents are speaking out after a Columbus middle school increases safety plans following the mass shooting at a high school in Florida. 

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    Parents are speaking out after a Columbus middle school increases safety plans following the mass shooting at a high school in Florida. 

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  • Kentucky beats Alabama 81-71 behind Washington's 16 points

    Kentucky beats Alabama 81-71 behind Washington's 16 points

    Saturday, February 17 2018 5:29 PM EST2018-02-17 22:29:34 GMT
    (Source: University of Alabama)(Source: University of Alabama)

    PJ Washington scored 16 points, Kevin Knox added 13, and Kentucky beat Alabama 81-71 on Saturday to end a four-game slide.

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    PJ Washington scored 16 points, Kevin Knox added 13, and Kentucky beat Alabama 81-71 on Saturday to end a four-game slide.

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  • Donta Hall powers Alabama to 80-65 win over LSU

    Donta Hall powers Alabama to 80-65 win over LSU

    Wednesday, February 14 2018 3:52 PM EST2018-02-14 20:52:23 GMT
    (Source: University of Alabama)(Source: University of Alabama)

    Donta Hall had 20 points and eight rebounds, including some powerful dunks, to lead Alabama to an 80-65 win over LSU on Tuesday night.

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    Donta Hall had 20 points and eight rebounds, including some powerful dunks, to lead Alabama to an 80-65 win over LSU on Tuesday night.

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  • South CarolinaMore>>

  • Wilson to get big send-off on Gamecocks Senior Night before LSU matchup

    Wilson to get big send-off on Gamecocks Senior Night before LSU matchup

    Thursday, February 22 2018 1:11 PM EST2018-02-22 18:11:27 GMT
    South Carolina's A'ja Wilson (22) waves after her team defeated Rutgers at the Gulf Coast Showcase NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Estero, Fla. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)South Carolina's A'ja Wilson (22) waves after her team defeated Rutgers at the Gulf Coast Showcase NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Estero, Fla. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
    South Carolina's A'ja Wilson (22) waves after her team defeated Rutgers at the Gulf Coast Showcase NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Estero, Fla. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)South Carolina's A'ja Wilson (22) waves after her team defeated Rutgers at the Gulf Coast Showcase NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Estero, Fla. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

    Thursday's game is an exciting night for Gamecocks women's basketball. 

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    Thursday's game is an exciting night for Gamecocks women's basketball. 

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  • South Carolina rains 3s in 66-57 win over Georgia

    South Carolina rains 3s in 66-57 win over Georgia

    Thursday, February 22 2018 1:07 AM EST2018-02-22 06:07:57 GMT
    South Carolina's Wesley Myers blocks a shot by Georgia's Tyree Crump during first-half action in Columbia, S.C. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)South Carolina's Wesley Myers blocks a shot by Georgia's Tyree Crump during first-half action in Columbia, S.C. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

    Wesley Myers scored 15 points and made five of South Carolina's 13 3-pointers as the Gamecocks beat Georgia 66-57 on Wednesday night.

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    Wesley Myers scored 15 points and made five of South Carolina's 13 3-pointers as the Gamecocks beat Georgia 66-57 on Wednesday night.

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  • Olson, pitchers help Carolina to third win in four days

    Olson, pitchers help Carolina to third win in four days

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 11:30 PM EST2018-02-21 04:30:30 GMT
    Junior closer Eddy Demurias (Source: TheBigSpur.com)Junior closer Eddy Demurias (Source: TheBigSpur.com)

    Seven different hitters reached base and the pitching staff allowed only one earned run as South Carolina was able to upend North Florida on Tuesday at Founders Park. 

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    Seven different hitters reached base and the pitching staff allowed only one earned run as South Carolina was able to upend North Florida on Tuesday at Founders Park. 

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(RNN) –  On Thursday, the Southeastern Conference will be reintroduced to South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney – the man who may be more of an anomaly than football's resident "freak."

Clowney showed off the talent that made him the No. 1 recruit out of high school during his freshman campaign. The defensive end finished the 2011 season with 36 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and eight quarterback sacks, despite his backup role while learning the Gamecocks' playbook.

He forced five fumbles as well, eighth best in the nation. The league's coaches named Clowney the SEC Freshman of the Year for his efforts, and he earned a spot on several freshman All-American lists.

In football terms, he can make plays from sideline-to-sideline. He's the type of defender who can power through offensive linemen or catch a running back at full speed equally well.

His style is reminiscent of another great collegiate DE, Julius Peppers. During Peppers' three seasons with North Carolina, he had 30 sacks and received a truckload of accolades, including All-American honors, the Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award.

The UNC Tar Heel got the moniker "Freak of Nature" for his combination of size (6'7", 280 pounds), speed (40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds) and ability to turn quarterbacks into throw rugs. He's done well in the NFL too, compiling 100 sacks and 36 forced fumbles in 10 years with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.

At 6'6" and 260 pounds with long arms, Clowney already has a Peppers-like frame. And the Gamecocks sophomore has run unofficial 40 times of 4.48 and 4.56, so he's probably faster.

The two had similar freshman campaigns as well. In 1999, Peppers finished with 50 tackles including 10 for loss and six sacks.

Peppers was redshirted his first year at school though, so he went in with a year's worth of study and practice under his belt. He produced gaudy totals of 64 tackles, 24 for loss and 15 sacks in his second season.

If Clowney puts up similar numbers, it will be a long, painful year for opposing teams. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier plans to move the sophomore between the defensive end and middle linebacker positions in 2012, to maximize his best defensive playmaker's talents.

That means Clowney has mastered the team's defensive schemes, and it also means offenses will have to account for him blitzing and dropping back to defend receivers.

Imagine being a QB, throwing an interception and being left as the only man standing between him and the end zone.

Go ahead, try and tackle him. No? I don't blame you.

Here are some more underclassmen who look poised make their mark in the SEC:

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

Most expected Eddie Lacy to take the role of lead running back for Alabama in 2012. However, his injury in training camp opened the door for the talented true freshman to make his claim as the No. 1 guy.

Yeldon, a Daphne, AL, native, was one of the nation's most sought after players out of high school. In his senior year, he ran for 2,193 yards, 31 touchdowns and added 244 yards and a touchdown receiving.

He looks like: DeMarco Murray. At 6'1", 215 pounds, Yeldon has the size to bounce off, or simply run over, many defenders in his way. Like the Dallas Cowboys running back, he runs tall, shows a burst of speed immediately after the handoff and has the on-field vision to evade potential tacklers.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

A redshirt freshman, Manziel overcame some legal troubles in June to grab the starting quarterback position for Texas A&M. After an arrest for fighting and a fake ID, he came on late in camp to overtake two others for the job.

The 6'1", 200-pounder from Kerville, TX, threw for 3,609 yards and 45 touchdowns and ran for 1,674 yards and 30 more TDs as a senior in high school. He received several state and national accolades, including being named the No. 1 quarterback recruit in Texas and a Parade All-American.

He looks like: Tony Romo. Manziel does not get flat-footed in the pocket, avoids the pass rush well and can pick up a first down running. He and the Cowboys QB have a quick release with good velocity and accuracy on their passes.

Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri

Sporting News named wide receiver Green-Beckham the national high school athlete of the year. Not the football player of the year – athlete of any sport.

He's also the national record holder for career receiving yards. In other words, he's not bad.

Green-Beckham had scholarship offers from prestigious schools across the nation but chose to stay near his hometown of Springfield, MO. The 6'6", 220-pound wideout literally stood over defenders in high school, catching 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior.

Even if the teams he played had someone as tall as him, he could have run by them. He's been clocked at 4.37 in the 40 and was the Missouri state champ in the 100-meter dash.

He will need time to learn the ins-and-outs of the Mizzou offensive strategy, but how hard is it to tell someone, "Go deep?" He will be an impact player from day one.

He looks like: Calvin Johnson. The Detroit Lions receiver is a big, fast target for his QB downfield. Green-Beckham already has the physique of an NFL player, and he should have no problem breaking free from defenders (or jumping over them) for long completions and touchdowns, just like Johnson does.

Others to watch: DE Trey Flowers (sophomore), Arkansas; QB Kiehl Frazier (sophomore), Auburn; RB Mack Brown (sophomore), Florida; CB Malcolm Mitchell (sophomore), Georgia; WR Demarco Robinson (sophomore), Kentucky; CB Jalen Mills (freshman), LSU; WR Joe Morrow (freshman), Mississippi State; RB I'Tavius Mathers (freshman) Ole Miss; LB Curt Maggitt (sophomore), Tennessee; WR Josh Grady (freshman), Vanderbilt.

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