HOUSTON — Anyone whos seen Jadeveon Clowneys monster tackle against Michigan in the Outback Bowl last year wont be surprised to learn what the No. 1 overall pick likes best about football.
Big hits, he said. Im all about hitting. I dont care who it is.
Thats what the Houston Texans are counting on from the South Carolina defensive end after skipping a chance to take a quarterback their top need with the top pick Thursday night. Clowney was introduced on Friday in Houston, joining a team that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
Clowney, a Rock Hill native who played at South Pointe High School, was already known as a top player before that hit in the Outback Bowl. But when he burst through the line and crashed into Vincent Smith, knocking his helmet off and the ball out of his hands in the process, his star power reached another level.
Hes hoping to pile up plenty more highlight-reel hits this season, but knows hell have to be careful about how he delivers them.
Thats what I live for is making big hits, he said. I hope I dont get no fines this year. I might have to dial it down a little.
New Houston coach Bill OBrien, who took over a team that hasnt won since Sept. 15, raved about Clowneys many attributes. But one thing stood out to OBrien as he got to know Clowney.
He really talked about how much he loved winning and how winning was important to him, OBrien said. These are the type guys that were looking for, were looking for team guys, were looking for tough guys, were looking for guys that are going to come in here and understand that theyre part of a team and theyre coming here to work hard.
Houston general manager Rick Smith obviously coveted Clowney for his pass-rushing ability, but values his attitude perhaps just as much.
Hes driven, and in my opinion very committed to being an excellent football play, and we need that, Smith said.
Clowney doesnt model his play after any player in particular, but he does study many guys to elevate his game.
I watch J.J. Watt, I watch Ray Lewis, I watch Lawrence Taylor before games, Clowney said. I go out there on the field (and say): Im about to pull a Lawrence Taylor. Im about to pull a Ray Lewis today. I try to take over the game and try to dominate a game and thats what I do.
Clowney got a good laugh during Thursdays news conference when OBrien referred to him as J.D.
I guess he has trouble pronouncing Jadeveon, Clowney said. So I told him: Just call me J.D., man. Were going to keep it simple. And its quicker and easier.
This isnt anything new to Clowney, who said people say his unique name wrong all the time.
I ask mom: Where you get that name from? I mispronounce it sometimes, he joked. Its all right though. Ive got so many nicknames, people give me J., J.D. call me Clowney, 7. Ive got so many names. Just dont call me Clown.
Everyone in his family has names that starts with the letter J, and his mother wanted to incorporate his father Davids name into her sons and came up with the hybrid name.
Clowney is excited about moving to a big city, but is a bit concerned about the traffic in Houston, home to more than 2 million people.
I better get here early, Clowney said. If I got to be here at 8, Ive got to get up at 5:30-6, get going and get here on time.