South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney played at a higher level than anybody else on the field during Saturday's Shrine Bowl despite being held more than a needy infant and playing with an injured hip and shoulder.
It didn't take a veteran talent scout to realize the pecking order was Clowney and then everybody else as the nation's top-ranked recruit flashed his prodigious skills to the maximum in South Carolina's 42-10 victory over North Carolina.
"I believe I can dominate anywhere," Clowney said. "Basically I told the boys before the game started, before I came on the field, that I was going to get defensive player of the game. Whatever I had to do, I was going to find a way to get it. I came out here and did and I believe I can play against anybody at any level."
The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder finished with three sacks among his five tackles and was rarely contained from disrupting just about every happening in the North backfield. With offensive linemen clinging to his jersey on most of his pursuits, Clowney laughed in saying he gets held about that amount in every game.
There was zero hint of any laid back, all-star mentality during the exhibition as Clowney competed like a state title was on the line.
"If I'm on the field I'm going to play hard because I don't want anybody saying I played bad or I ain't any good," Clowney said. "I played OK, but it could have been better. I think I did OK with the pressure and living up to (the hype)."
WHERE'S MY MVP? Scott's Branch tight end Jerell Adams finished second overall with both five receptions and 62 receiving yards, but led the most important category with three touchdown catches and even had one called back due to a penalty.
Surprisingly, tailback Shon Carson was the South Carolina offensive MVP after rushing 16 times for 82 yards and a touchdown.
"(Charone) Peake and our other receivers are the reason I was able to get my catches, them and the offensive line," said Adams, who is still undecided on a college. "It's kind of between USC, Clemson, Florida and Auburn and I'll visit Clemson and USC in January."
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Spartanburg offensive lineman and Maryland commitment Stephen Grommer was too busy enjoying the perfect ending to his high school career to start contemplating his future, even as reports surfaced that Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen was being forced out.
"I really want to talk to the coaches before I say anything and I'm not either way about it right now," Grommer said. "I've been just trying to concentrate on the Shrine Bowl and have fun and then I'll worry about that later."
The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder helped the South Carolina squad to 171 yards rushing and the line allowed only one sack.
Grommer and Spartanburg cornerback Ronnie Martin were the game's two participants playing on their home field.
"This really was a dream finish to the season," Grommer said. "I won my final game as a senior here and then we won the Shrine Bowl in one of the most lopsided victories and now I'm getting ready to go to college. This really was the best way it could end. I'm kind of speechless the way this week has gone with meeting and playing with all these great guys."
DUAL THREAT: Highly recruited Marlboro County linebacker Lateek Townsend surprisingly finished second among all rushers with 71 yards on eight carries (an 8.9 average), including a 32-yard scamper, as South Carolina employed him and linebacker Dexter Stanley in the "Wildcat" formation.
"Coach was running the Wildcat in practice and the guys were running it, but they weren't running it hard (enough)," Townsend said. "I said I'll make everybody better out here and so I told coach to give me the rock just to make everybody play harder on defense. He liked what he saw and we transitioned it from practice."
UP GOES FRAZIER: College recruiters and fans outside of Irmo might have overlooked receiver David Frazier before Saturday's game. But the 6-foot, 165-pound Elon commitment raised his profile with game highs of six catches for 107 yards.
"I just played hard all week in practice and think I came into the game as one of the sleepers," Frazier said of his low profile in a game that featured multiple SEC and ACC recruits. "It was surprising and I didn't expect to get this many catches. I thought that Charone (Peake) and Shamier (Jeffery) would get most of the catches. They started throwing me the ball and I was just trying to make plays.
"I'm glad I played as good as I did and maybe it will get me some more looks (from colleges). I feel I can play at a (big conference school) level. I'm still looking for more schools, but Elon is probably where I'm going."