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Rock Hill's Clowney: a story in the making

Saturday night, the big stories were about fumbles and more Steve Spurrier fun with quarterbacks.

But if you read between the lines, you could see that down the road, the tale of Jadeveon Clowney that began here could well be a good one.

South Carolina rolled East Carolina 56-37 at Bank of America Stadium - overcoming a horrible start which included four lost fumbles and a 17-0 first half deficit - after senior quarterback Stephen Garcia bounced back from a benching to lead the comeback.

That left Clowney a bit player in the drama, but taking the stage for the first time was enough for him.

The South Pointe High graduate had a solid night in his college debut. It wasn't the thunderbolts he brought in his high school career, but for an 18-year-old playing in his first college game in an NFL stadium, he showed enough flashes.

Clowney, the nation's No. 1 high school recruit and the subject of more Internet speculation during the recruiting process than the Kardashians, wasn't much of a factor early on.

The Gamecocks listed Clowney as a backup in the pre-game lineups, but he started at right defensive end as part of a nickel package. The presumptive starter, senior Melvin Ingram (who had 11 sacks last year) slid inside and rushed as a defensive tackle. Clowney may not have played every snap, but was on the field for most of them during a game that pushed the four-hour mark.

Despite the long night, his quickness was evident as he blasted past East Carolina left tackle Jordan Davis, but often those speed rushes were funneled deep enough into the pocket that quarterback Dominique Davis was perfectly safe. At the same time, his talent showed. His burst into the backfield several times revealed his rare combination of size and speed, but it often left him roaring past running backs as well.

But the small things gave a clear indication of what he's capable of.

On the East Carolina turnover which set up South Carolina's go-ahead score in the third quarter, Clowney rocked the 290-pound tackle Davis back on his heels with a pair of strong power moves.

Coupled with his speed - which showed on some backside pursuit plays - there's clearly plenty of raw material to work with.

Midway through the third quarter, he flashed past a block and batted a pass, which hung in the air long enough he almost caught it. Had he done so, he'd have walked into the end zone untouched, the kind of play former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers made so often in this stadium. Early in the fourth, he pressured the ECU quarterback into a hurried pass, which was picked off by Ingram.


Tackles: 7

Tackles for loss: 0.5

Quarterback hurries: 1

Passes broken up: 1


Games: 1

Games started: 1

Tackles: 7

Tackles for loss: 0.5

QB hurries: 1

Sacks: 0

Forced fumbles: 0

Recovered fumbles: 0

Passes broken up: 1

Interceptions: 0

Touchdowns: 0

David Cloninger