Clowney top Heisman candidate in SEC; 'The Hit' nominated for ESPY

From The State Staff ReportsJune 28, 2013 

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney scores a touchdown on an off the bench play during the 2013 Garnet & Black Game at Williams-Brice Stadium.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

— Johnny Manziel is the defending Heisman Trophy winner, but he is not the favorite SEC player to win the trophy in 2013. That distinction belongs to Jadeveon Clowney, according to Athlon Magazine.

SEC players have won four of the past six Heismans and the trend could continue in 2013.

Athlon’s top 10 Heisman candidates in the SEC:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, USC DE: Most physically gifted player in nation

2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB: Odds of repeating are 1-in-77

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia QB: Close to career SEC passing records

4. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama RB: Backups rushed for 1,000 yards, 10 TDs

5.Todd Gurley, Georgia RB: Led SEC RBs in rushing with 17 TDs

6. AJ McCarron, Alabama QB: Two-time defending BCS champion

7. C.J. Mosley, Alabama LB: Top LB prospect for NFL draft

8. Jeff Driskel, Florida QB: Flashed brilliance as a runner, passer

9. Ben Malena, Texas A&M RB: Sleeper pick for monster season

10. Amari Cooper, Alabama WR: Few have more explosive first step

Playing an arguably large part in Clowney's rise is "The Hit," his take-down of Michigan's unfortunate Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl. Video of the massive tackle that sent Smith's helmet flying during a turnover play that helped the Gamecocks win the game went viral.

For the ESPY's, broadcast at 9 p.m. July 17, ESPN is using a bracket voting system to narrow the field for its Best Play category. Clowney's hit is the No. 1 seed.

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