Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) celebrates a tackle for loss against the Clemson Tigers in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney: 'I had to grow up fast'

When the ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks take on the 18th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 1, it will almost certainly be the last game of Gamecocks’ defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s career.

When the season began, Clowney faced unrealistic expectations. After he had 13 sacks in 2012, Clowney was thought of as a sure-fire top overall pick and a potential Heisman Trophy contender.

Clowney fought through injuries (he has dealt with bone spurs in his foot and a strained muscle near his ribs this season) and had a disappointing junior season. He consistently was double teamed, missed two games and finished with just three sacks.

Although he didn’t sniff any awards, he still has a chance to be the #1 pick and can close out his career by leading the Gamecocks’ to an 11-2 record.

“Right now, my mind’s on the team, trying to finish the season off strong and win this game against Wisconsin,” Clowney told the Associated Press. “After that, I’ll look forward to doing everything else.”

Although the season has been difficult, Clowney thought it taught him an important lesson in maturity.

“I had to grow up fast, put it like that,” he said. “I’ve had to grow up faster than people expect.”

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