|Wade Payne / Associated Press|
|Jadeveon Clowney's toughness and effort level have been questioned after a disappointing junior season.|
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney responded Monday to questions about his mental readiness to play in the NFL, and the always-smiling junior's message was a confident one.
"I like to work when it's time to work and play when it's time to play," Clowney said in advance of the Gamecocks' Capital One Bowl appearance against Wisconsin, according to foxsports.com.
Clowney's decline in production from his sophomore year in 2012 to this year has done little to make NFL scouts rethink their assessments of his physical tools, but his effort and toughness have been questioned at times. Off the field, two speeding tickets this month for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone, and 84 mph in a 55 zone, have driven a negative narrative as well.
Clowney, for his part, has maintained his strong sense of humor, posing with police for an Instagram photo after his second ticket.
We in here me and my boys lol pic.twitter.com/sKfDdvMoDoâ jadeveon clowney 7 (@clownejd) December 27, 2013
Junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington validated Clowney's reputation as a fun guy, but teammates haven't bought into any of the negativity.
"He's a clown, man," Ellington said. "He should be out doing comedy."
Clowney projects as one of the top picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, but has yet to officially declare his early draft eligibility. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, however, isn't hiding from the obvious.
"We're all wondering if he has a limo to take him out of the ballpark or not," Spurrier said.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.