Rock Hill salutes Clowney

jhoke@thestate.comMarch 14, 2011 

Jadeveon Clowney

JOSH HOKE — jhoke@thestate.com

ROCK HILL | Not many communities in America are parading their best high school football players in front of their lawmaking bodies.

But it wasn’t that odd to see South Carolina signee Jadeveon Clowney honored by the Rock Hill City Council for being the nation’s best player. You have to understand the importance of football in this Charlotte suburb, and if anybody’s prep career is worth this much attention, it certainly is Clowney’s.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols issued a proclamation during Monday’s meeting, noting the litany of honors that Clowney has collected in the past year and congratulating him on his success.

In some ways, the city owes him a great deal. Many of its residents have vicariously lived out there greatest fantasies by following his career, and certainly his consistent appearances on national broadcasts and in national publications have helped bring positive attention to Rock Hill and York County.

“Certainly it’s not often that we have student-athletes that rise to his caliber,” Echols said. “We’ve got a pretty good sports history in Rock Hill, and we just wanted to make sure that we took this opportunity to recognize him. The fact that he’s from Rock Hill and gotten not only local and regional attention but also national attention is a real plus for our community.”

Though its residents – like USC fans – probably didn’t care for Clowney’s decision to wait until after National Signing Day to make his college choice, the city of Rock Hill benefitted in the end just as USC’s program did. For an entire day last month, both entities received media attention across the nation, providing insight for Americans into an underdog program and one of the nation’s best cities for high school football.

Clowney has been as good for Rock Hill as Rock Hill has been for Clowney. Call it a symbiotic relationship.

“It’s always good when you have the No. 1 recruit in a small town or small city like Rock Hill,” South Pointe Athletic Director Mike Drummond said. “It brings attention to the city as well as the school.”

It was Clowney’s exploits that made the Rock Hill City Council take notice of the feats achieved by South Pointe in its short existence. Echols admitted that the council should have honored the program for winning the Class AAAA, Division II state championship in 2008, a team led by USC defensive standouts Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman.

However, the council couldn’t ignore the many achievements that Clowney has received in the past few months and decided that while he was in attendance, it might as well posthumously honor the 2008 team as well.

“The city of Rock Hill is extremely proud of him,” City Councilman Osbey Roddey said. “He’s done extremely done well in sports on the field and … he’s represented the city extremely well as far as his character and etc.

“It’s always good for the city when we have [residents] that excel in athletics at any level that represent the city and community well. We’re really proud of them.”

Perhaps Monday’s proceedings revealed one skill that Clowney is yet to master. He’s not comfortable when asked to speak in public. After Echols read the proclamation, he asked Clowney to say a few words.

The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder, who is quite comfortable in interviews, stepped to the microphone but couldn’t put an entire sentence together, a smile filling his face as his insecurities became obvious to those in attendance.

However, that’s not the lasting legacy he’ll leave on this city, which will likely remember him as the dominant player with the charismatic personality. He’s not ready to script his legacy quite yet, however.

“I don’t know,” he said with a smile. “I just play football.”

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