How quickly does University of South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney get off the ball?

Let’s ask Michigan running back Vincent Smith about that … (boom).

This week Clowney – who is projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft – gave special teams a shot, lining up for a field goal block in spring practice.

Did Clowney make the block? Um, yeah … in fact according to a writer for Gamecock Central, he got to the ball before the placekicker did.

“Clowney just blocked a field goal by kicking it out of the holder’s hand,” the writer tweeted. “I’m serious.”

Amazing …

There was no mention of the block in USC’s official press release recapping Thursday’s practice, and so far no video of the block has surfaced. But if anybody wants to doubt the validity of Clowney’s special teams “feet,” we’ll take that action.

We knew Clowney was going to be a special player, but we never expected him to become this good, this fast. In fact we can’t believe we’re saying this, but so far Clowney has not only met the lofty Lawrence Taylor standard set out for him … he’s exceeded it.

Clowney – who finished his sophomore season with 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and three forced fumbles – finished sixth in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting. Expect him to be a frontrunner for the award this season. The 6-foot-6 lineman has reportedly added twelve points to his frame – putting him at 272 pounds this spring. However Clowney hasn’t lost a bit of his speed and explosiveness. According to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, Clowney ran the forty-yard dash in a blazing 4.5 seconds during USC’s winter workouts.

That’s faster than most NFL running back prospects, people …


Pic: Travis Bell Photography