South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier expressed both surprise and displeasure last Saturday when star player Jadeveon Clowney decided not to play against Kentucky right before the game.
However, that has apparently changed.
Spurrier admitted today, via ESPN:
Jadeveon has a muscle strain near his rib area that cause him to miss the game last week against Kentucky. He was in pain. It was diagnosed later, and obviously we all handled it poorly, all of us did.
The 6-foot-6, 274-pound All-American Clowney had told coaches before the game that the bruised ribs that kept him out of practice the previous Thursday were too sore and he could not play. Clowney spent the game chatting with teammates on the bench, while South Carolina lost another large lead. However, the Gamecocks still held on to win 35-28.
Spurrier said after the win, “[If Clowney] “wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants. But if he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play. Simple as that.”
He later added that it is procedure for a player to tell the head trainer, and for the head trainer to tell the coaches if a player can’t play. However, this procedure was not followed and it caused some confusion.
Clowney, thought to be a potential Heisman candidate and potential first-overall draft pick coming into this season has been somewhat disappointing so far for the Gamecocks. While injuries have had a part of it, Clowney’s focus and dedication have been questioned.
When asked about this Saturday, Spurrier said “You’ll have to ask him that.”
However, Spurrier had only great things to say about his player just three days later:
Let me say this about Jadeveon: If he doesn’t play another snap here, we all should be thankful and appreciative that he came to South Carolina. We’ve won 26 games, two 11-2 years, the greatest seasons we’ve had in the history of this school in 120 years, so none of us need to be upset with Jadeveon, none of us.
Spurrier also said that Clowney is working hard to return for this week’s game.