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University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won the Hendricks Award this week as the best defensive lineman in America – the first sophomore ever to receive the honor.

The nation’s leader in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (21.5), Clowney is the second Palmetto State standout in the last three years to capture the Hendricks Award – following Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who won it in 2010.  He is only the second Southeastern Conference player to win it, following two-time winner David Pollack of Georgia (2003-04).

After winning SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 2011, Clowney took a major leap forward this season – emerging as the most disruptive force in all of college football.

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In addition to the Hendricks Award, Clowney was also a national finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award (won by Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo) – and is a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award (Best Lineman) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player).

The Hendricks Award is named after former University of Miami lineman/ linebacker Ted Hendricks (a.k.a. the “Mad Stork). After a stellar collegiate career, Hendricks played fifteen seasons in the National Football League for the Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders.

Hendricks called Clowney an “explosive football player.”

“He has a constant motor, a strong work ethic and never seems to tire,” Hendricks said.  “He gave opposing blockers nightmares all season. If they blinked, Jadeveon was already past them.”