CHARLOTTE — Jadeveon Clowney didn’t win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday night, but he guaranteed he will in 2013 — which he said will be his final season at South Carolina.
“Who’s going to stop me (next season)?” he said. “I’m not going to let anybody stop me.”
Regardless of how the award circuit turns out, Clowney said Monday that next season will be his last with the Gamecocks. USC coach Steve Spurrier has been vocal in his belief that Clowney will leave for the NFL after three seasons of college football, and Clowney confirmed that.
“He said three years? He said that? So he knows that?” Clowney said of his coach. “There ain’t no doubt, I’m leaving after next year.”
In his second season at USC, the sophomore defensive end was almost unstoppable at times.
He set South Carolina’s single-season record with 13 sacks during the regular season, and he is second in the nation in sacks (1.18 per game) and in tackles-for-loss (1.95 per game).
Clowney finished the regular season with 50 tackles, including 21.5 for loss, but lost out Monday night to Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who had 103 tackles and seven interceptions to lead the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season and a spot in the BCS national title game.
“I think I do (deserve it), but it’s whoever they choose,” Clowney said. “It doesn’t really matter to me.”
Clowney, Te’o, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner were finalists for the award. Clowney will have plenty more chances this week to take home a trophy. He also is a finalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Hendricks awards, all of which will be announced this week.
The Hendricks Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive end, probably is Clowney’s best bet to come out a winner. He is one of six finalists, along with Werner, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, LSU’s Sam Montgomery, Florida State’s Cornelius Carradine and Southern Cal’s Morgan Breslin. The winner will be announced Wednesday.
The Lombardi Award goes to the nation’s top offensive or defensive lineman or linebacker. Clowney, Jones, Te’o and Alabama’s Barrett Jones are the four finalists. That trophy will be presented Wednesday night in Houston.
The Bednarik Award goes to the nation’s top defensive player as voted on by Maxwell Football Club. Clowney, Jones and Te’o are the three finalists. The Bednarik Award will be presented Thursday night as part of ESPN’s annual college football awards show.