Practice report: Clowney could be done for the spring

Sharrod Golightly, for now, has the edge at spur

Special to The StateApril 9, 2013 

Jadeveon Clowney might not take another snap this spring, and that would be fine with USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

Clowney sustained a neck sprain last week when he and J.T Surratt collided while trying to tackle a ball carrier in the backfield. Clowney said he didn’t see Surratt and when the two hit, Clowney’s neck ended in an awkward position. He’s been sore since and had a noticeably stiff neck after Tuesday’s practice.

“His neck and back is still stiff,” Ward said. “Whether he goes another snap (this spring), I don’t care.”

Clowney isn’t sure if he’s done for the spring but even if he is released by the doctors, the unanimous All-American has little to prove and likely will be held out. But that won’t stop the junior defensive end from preparing for next season.

“It’s about learning the playbook,” Clowney said. “We put in some new stuff and play calls and the rest of the stuff I will just catch up on. I will be working on my strength and conditioning. You get those two things, football will take care of itself.”

Clowney was in the news again earlier this week after he was finally unseated on the ESPN Best of the Best Poll for his memorable hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl. Jack Hoffman, a 7-year old Nebraska fan and cancer patient, scored a touchdown in the Cornhuskers Spring Game on Saturday.

Hoffman survived a risky operation to remove a golf-ball sized tumor from his brain stem.

The inspirational play ended Clowney’s run of being a 45-time winner of the SportsCenter poll on Monday.

Clowney said most of the chatter of the hit had halted in recent weeks until Hoffman finally ended his streak.

“I’m happy for him,” Clowney said. “I shouted him out on Twitter and everything. He deserves it.”

Bridging the gap

The ongoing effort of the USC athletics department to reach out to former players continued on Tuesday. All former football players were invited to be guests at football practice. A dinner was held in their honor at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium. Athletics director Ray Tanner and football coach Steve Spurrier spoke to the estimated crowd of about 125 former players.

It’s the third such event Clyde Wrenn has orchestrated since his return to USC athletics administration. In January, USC held a reunion of former Gamecock quarterbacks, and in February, 47 former players who played professionally came back to Columbia.

Spur update

Sharrod Golightly and Jordan Diggs have been in a spirited battle to take over the spur position from DeVonte Holloman.

Golightly has a slight lead coming out of spring but the final decision probably will carry over to the fall.

“It’s real close,” Ward said. “They both have done a lot of good things but I think Sharrod has made more plays this spring. If we had to start tomorrow, Sharrod would be the starter.”

Spring game details

South Carolina will conclude spring practice Saturday with the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Admission is free with kickoff set for 1 p.m. The scrimmage will consist of four 12-minute quarters with the clock stopping in the first half but running continuously in the second half.

The spring awards will be presented by Spurrier at halftime and Ted Hendricks, the former college and NFL great, will be on hand to award Clowney the 2012 Ted Hendricks Award that is given to nation’s top defensive end each season.

Parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Farmer’s Market — with the exception of the premium lots closest to the stadium — and the ETV lots will open at 9 a.m. and will cost $10. Gates 6 and 10 in the Fairgrounds will open at 9 a.m., also at a cost of $10. Seawell’s will open its grass lot at 9:30 a.m. for a $5 fee, while the athletics department’s Key Road lot will open at 9 a.m. and be free to the public.

Fan Fest will be held before and after the game. A cornhole tournament and tailgate competition for those who pre-registered will be held before the game in the Gamecock Village. Singer Patrick Davis will hold a free concert in the Farmer’s Market amphitheater at 11a.m.

Approximately 30 minutes after the game, Fan Fest will move inside the stadium and allow fans photo opportunities, field goal attempts and other activities.

Jadeveon Clowney

Lorenzo Ward

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