Current Cleveland Brown and former Gamecock Jadeveon Clowney was honored with a jersey retirement during halftime of South Carolina's season opener on Saturday. Clowney said he's happy to be back in Columbia and never saw this accolade coming.
“Very excited about it. Very happy for it. Couldn't do it without my teammates at the time, my family, friends, it's everybody man," Clowney said. "They took part in it for the years I was here, it was a blessing and got me where I'm at today."
Clowney was the nation’s top recruit out of high school in 2011 and went on to post elite numbers at South Carolina before being drafted first overall to the Houston Texans in 2014. He owns the school’s single-season record of 13 sacks and a single-game record of 4.5 sacks.
Although Clowney's jersey is being retired, his number seven is still available to current and future players. Before the game, Clowney praised both redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Rattler and fifth-year edge Jordan Strachan, the two players currently wearing seven.
“There's two guys that's wearing it. There's another defensive end wearing it too, I looked that up. I gotta check this guy out, I hope he's out there balling, I'm much more worried about him than the quarterback," Clowney said. "All the guys really that put that have put that USC jersey on, it's an honor to wear it, and I feel like they just go out there representing the name on the back and do their thing."
Clowney said he never envisioned football would lead him to becoming someone that young players look up to and want to be. He mentioned football was always something he just did as "a kid in the backyard."
"I never thought or visualized nobody would wanna be like me because I always was doing it for fun and never seen it taking me nowhere, even in high school," Clowney said. "I used to tell a story to everybody, me and my mom never was like 'this what you need to be doing,' it was like something I just did and everybody was telling me how good I was, and she didn't even pay no attention."
The Gamecock great helped lead the team to three bowl wins and provided one of the most iconic moments in college football when he tackled and forced Vincent Smith to fumble in the 2013 Outback Bowl against Michigan. The play became know as "The Hit".