Peter King of the MMQB.com on Wednesday said just what South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney wouldn't want to hear.
Appearing on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, King said that NFL personnel executives have concerns about Clowney's mental makeup in the wake of his last-minute decision to sit out Saturday's Gamecocks win over Kentucky.
"I can tell you that there is skepticism about Clowney now because people don't know now: a) if he really loves football, and b) if he can play hurt," King said.
Clowney brought those questions into focus last weekend, when he informed South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier that he would be unavailable to play against the Wildcats because of a rib injury. Spurrier was critical of Clowney Saturday and Sunday, annoyed that Clowney did not keep trainers informed that missing the game was even a consideration.
Spurrier later softened his stance and spread the blame, while Clowney acted as if all was well in Gamecockville.
Clowney is expected to have surgery after the season to remove bone spurs from his right foot, which is likely to prevent him from participating fully in the NFL Scouting Combine, particularly if the Gamecocks are involved in a January bowl game, as expected. Those bone spurs, along with two separate illnesses, have been cited at least in part for Clowney's unspectacular season to date (12 tackles, two sacks). Then came the rib injury, first reported as a bruise, then as a muscle strain, that prevented Clowney from playing against UK.
Questions about his toughness and motivation are the last thing Clowney needs added to evaluations of what has been an underwhelming season, but it should be nothing a strong October on the field can't solve. Clowney is expected to turn pro early after the season -- even Spurrier has hinted at the strength of the possibility -- and has been projected as a candidate for a high first-round pick.