Clowney, Noel Situations May Reverberate in NCAA

By Marc U.
Jadeveon Clowney
I believe Clowney takes the field in 2013 but the discussion will continue.

Earlier this week, there were reports that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was considering sitting out his junior season. Keep in mind that current National Football League rules state that any prospective player who wants to enter the NFL must be three years removed from high school.

Clowney recently completed his sophomore season in Columbia with another dominant year of terrorizing opposing offenses. His crushing, helmet-popping tackle of a Michigan running back in the Outback Bowl was the icing on the cake.

At first impression, one might hear these rumors about Clowney and immediately dismiss them as ‘silly’ or ‘just plain dumb.’ I can tell you first-hand I don’t think this is anything to take lightly. For Clowney, who would easily be a top five pick in this year’s NFL Draft, this potential decision hits very close to home.

You might recall that Clowney’s teammate Marcus Lattimore suffered a horrifying knee injury in front of the home crowd during the season that could end up costing the young man millions of dollars due to falling draft stock. While Lattimore has decided to enter the NFL Draft this April, he will more than likely be a middle round draft pick due to the injury. Had the unfortunate event never occurred, Lattimore would have most certainly been a first round pick.

Unless you’re new to the draft thing, then you know that means a substantial loss in early-career revenue. By no means does this mean that Lattimore can’t significantly increase his earnings by staying healthy and being productive but his chances are certainly diminished by the injury.

Therefore, I’m in absolutely no position to tell Jadeveon Clowney that he should go ahead and play his junior season. If it’s me, I play. USC has a great team coming back and the potential for an SEC and BCS title are within reach. We play this game to win championships right? Well, maybe not so much anymore. As much as I’d be upset that he didn’t play if I were a Gamecock fan, I would still have to understand the decision being made.

Nerlens Noel
Noel's injury will spark debate about the 'one and done' rule again.

Perhaps not so different is the case that Kentucky basketball player Nerlens Noel is dealing with today. As you know the rule for college basketball players going pro is known as ‘one and down.’ You’re required to have one year of college ball before entering the National Basketball Association.

Out of high school Noel, who led the nation in blocks prior to his injury this week, was easily a top five pick in the NBA draft. Noel went down with a horrible ACL injury in the Wildcats’ loss to Florida and is gone for the season. Early speculation by draft gurus is that Noel would still be a lottery pick if he chooses to enter the draft despite the injury.

The bigger question in both the Clowney and Noel cases is, “Is it time to just banish these rules that limit immediate participation altogether?”

I say ‘yes,’ but with a couple of important caveats. First, I would make young players take meaningful and educational classes on not just how to handle money, but to also learn about how life in their respective league works. I consider myself to be a pretty smart individual but I am also smart enough to tell you that I would not have had a clue at the age of 18 or 19 about surviving life in the NBA, NFL or Major League Baseball.

I believe that Clowney will in fact play in 2013 but I also think his situation will spark discussion across the board. Maurice Clarett tried, but his reputation destroyed much of what he was fighting for and I think a newer, cleaner challenge will find different results.