The biggest college football talker over the past week has surrounded South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and his struggle to decide if he should play the 2013 season and risk a career altering injury or sit it out and play it safe. One of the main motivating factors in Clowney wanting to sit out the 2013 season is what happened to teammate and friend Marcus Lattimore.
Had Lattimore not suffered a grueling injury in October, he would likely be a first round lock for this April’s draft and wouldn’t have fallen past the second round. But because of that injury, Lattimore is know a late-round pick at best and has cost himself hundreds of thousands of dollars. But while Lattimore is a cautionary tale, he says he’s cool with the NCAA rule that says no college player can enter the NFL Draft until he’s three years removed from high school — a rule that blocked Clowney from entering this year’s draft.
“I feel like it’s more of a maturity thing, as far as waiting three years,” Lattimore told NFL.com. “I feel like it’s fair, I really do. I feel like three years is the right thing to do. It’s a matter of maturing, getting stronger. If you leave after your second year, you’re 19 years old playing against 30 year olds.”
Lattimore said he was okay with having to play another season of college football due to the rule, even if he thought he was ready to make the leap to the NFL last season. He said that Clowney may be frustrated by the rule, but it’s the nature of the beast and it won’t make Clowney any less attractive to NFL teams next year.
“He’s a great player,” Lattimore said. “He’s going to be the No. 1 pick overall. But he’s a guy that, he can’t sit out a year. That’s what kind of person he is. I mean, he’s not going to miss a year of football.”
Some are arguing against Clowney playing next season, saying his draft stock has topped out and the only place for it to go is down. But no matter what Clowney does this season, one thing is certain: he won’t be the last player to challenge the NCAA rule and every snap he takes at South Carolina next season will be one that has football fans around the world clenching their fists and preparing to avert their eyes.