GREENSBORO, N.C. — Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was recently referenced by the nightmare-inducing South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as one of many quarterbacks who Clowney feels is afraid of him.
Boyd responded as you’d expect a guy who is the team leader to respond: “I’m not afraid of him. Never been in my nature, never been in my character.”
Honestly, if Boyd — or any quarterback, for that matter — is scared of Clowney, then they’re just being sensible. He terrorized quarterbacks all season last year and had one of the biggest hits you will ever see.
North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, whose Tar Heels will open their season at South Carolina, saw that hit.
“Yeah, I think everybody in the entire world has seen that,” Renner said. “That was an unbelievable play.”
Renner is the son of a head coach, and so he has been fluent in coachspeak for most of his life. When asked if he woke up at night seeing Clowney’s face, he said “No” but then quickly changed the subject.
“We’re ready for the challenge. We just look forward to embracing the opportunity,” Renner said. “I’ve never had a chance to play against an SEC opponent, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Oh, well done, Renner.
Boyd has had to deal with this story quite a bit more, though, since Clemson and South Carolina are rivals and since Clowney specifically named him.
“Honestly, I mean, there’s a lot of talking that goes on in college football on the field, off the field,” Boyd said. “This is one of the more highly-publicized things. Honestly, that’s just not in my focus, it’s not on my radar. I think that’ll take of itself when we play them in November.”
Renner was asked directly if he feared Clowney, and yet again, he avoided answering it.
“I’m looking forward to lining up. That’s the biggest thing. I’m a competitor and I’m just looking forward to — I think our whole team is — just to play at South Carolina,” Renner said. “It’s a rivalry game. We’re looking forward to being the team that can hopefully go down there and compete with them. They’re a top-10 team, so we’re looking to just go down there and compete.”
Renner pointed out that he’s going to have an All-ACC left tackle (James Hurst) to protect him, and he said even his mother trusts Hurst with Renner’s life.
But Renner also said that as a 175-pound freshman quarterback, he was practicing against the likes of Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Quintin Coples, a group that included two first-round draft picks and one second-round pick on the defensive line.
Still, both potential All-ACC quarterbacks knew they were going to have to praise Clowney. And both of them did just that.
“Unbelievable player, first off. One of the most natural athletes I’ve seen play on the football field,” Renner said.
Added Boyd: “He’s a really good player. One of the better defensive players in the country, obviously. It speaks for itself. He’s just a good player. I respect the way he plays; I respect his game. I’m looking forward to playing those guys down at their place.”
A little flattery will get you everywhere, guys. But if I were you, I’d be taking your entire offensive line to dinner every night too, just to be safe.