South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gushed about Jadeveon Clowney's talent level on Wednesday. But Spurrier didn't gush about Clowney's work habits.
Spurrier said on NFL Network's "NFL AM" that Clowney's work habits were "pretty good" and "OK," saying they didn't compare to those of former Gamecocks stars Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram. But each time Spurrier dinged the work habits, he also praised Clowney, saying "when the ball is snapped, yeah, he's got something no one else has" and "when the ball is snapped, he's got an explosion like you've never seen before."
NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock on Tuesday questioned Clowney's mental makeup. But Mayock also said Clowney has "the physical makeup to be the best player the draft."
Spurrier also defended Clowney's relative lack of production in 2013 (40 tackles and three sacks, compared with 54 tackles and 12 sacks in 2012).
"Even though his production this year wasn't near what it was last year, he had two to three guys waiting on him just about every play," Spurrier said. "His run defense was very good, though. He chased down a bunch of guys and made tackles. His sacks, he had to go around two and three guys just about every game."
Spurrier said every opponent "had a plan for him. Even if we move him to the right side or the middle, that guy back there would just follow him wherever he went and tried to double-team or triple-team and give his lineman help on just about every pass play."
Spurrier said Clowney "can obviously get a little stronger. He's only 20, I think, right now. He may be 21, I'm not sure. But he's still got some room to muscle up a bit, but he's, again, got that explosiveness that you don't see very often. He's a good team player. We didn't win 11 games three years in a row, most in school history, because of any kind of issues and so forth."
Spurrier said going back to high school, Clowney was "a winner as well as being the most dominant defensive player on the field all the time."
Spurrier was asked which pro player Clowney most reminded him of, and Spurrier said Jevon Kearse, Kevin Carter and Julius Peppers. Spurrier coached Carter and Kearse at Florida. Carter went sixth overall in the 1995 draft and had four seasons of 10-plus sacks. Kearse went 16th overall in 1999 and had three seasons of 10-plus sacks. Peppers went second overall in the 2002 draft and has had eight seasons of 10-plus sacks.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.