Last Saturday, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater tore through Miami for 447 yards and three touchdowns and then said he’d spend a few days sitting down with his family and coaches to decide whether he should return to school for a senior season or declare for the NFL Draft.
With his degree already in hand and draft analysts projecting him to be potentially the first overall pick in May, nobody expected Bridgewater to play any more football at Louisville, but he still said after the game that he would take his time to decide. On Wednesday, he officially declared.
Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t need any time to sit and think. His mind was already made up coming into South Carolina’s Capital One Bowl meeting with Wisconsin, and after beating the Badgers 34-24, Clowney told ESPN’s Tom Luginbill on live TV that this was his last college game.
Since the summer, Clowney has been picked at, dissected and scrutinized for every move he’s made as a junior.
It began in the opening game of the season against North Carolina, on a swampy night in Columbia in which Clowney was out of breath and some wondered whether he coasted through the summer and was out of shape. It continued after he asked out of a game against Kentucky in October for a rib injury, which spawned columns about him not loving football. A well-known radio host called him the “biggest joke in college football.”
When Clowney followed a Dec. 7 speeding ticket for going 110 mph in a 70 mph zone with another three weeks later – this one for going 84 mph in a 55 zone – this was enough fuel for the Internet machines to run back the character-assassinating columns and ask how this is all going to affect his draft stock.
“With the recent speeding tickets, do you have any concern about that?” color commentator Brian Griese was asked as the final minute ticked down in the Capital One Bowl.
“I have zero concern about that,” Griese said. “I mean, speeding tickets can happen to any of us, right?”
Thank you, Brian Griese, for bringing a little bit of level-headed sanity to the final hour of Clowney’s college career. We could have used more of that all along.
Connor Shaw ends his South Carolina career
Clowney has gotten more than enough due this season. One guy who hasn’t gotten enough? Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw.
Shaw, a senior, also played his final college game Wednesday and went out as best he could: 22 of 25 passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns, along with 47 yards and one touchdown rushing.
Oh, Shaw also had a touchdown receiving, which came on this awesome trick play:
South Carolina fans will always remember Clowney for his incredible physical ability, but I bet if you asked most of them who was more fun to watch this season, many would say Shaw.
They’ll remember Shaw, after injuring his right (throwing) shoulder against UCF, coming back the following game against Kentucky and going 17 of 20 for 262 yards and a TD, plus another 50 yards and a TD rushing.
They’ll remember him spraining his knee in a loss to Tennessee and coming back the following week to beat then-undefeated Missouri on the road in double overtime.
Shaw wasn’t ever one of the names that came to mind when someone asked, “Who are the best quarterbacks in the country?” but he finished his senior season completing 61 percent of his passes and posting a 76.4 adjusted QBR, which ranked No. 19 in the nation and was better than the well-regarded James Franklin (Mizzou) and Blake Bortles (UCF).
We don’t need to polish Shaw’s career to make it something worth celebrating. He had his moments of dismal play, but he’s a tough dude who gained the respect of fans everywhere for his effort in 2013.
His departure shouldn’t be overshadowed by Jadeveon Clowney, because Shaw was equally as important to South Carolina’s success.
Never change, Steve Spurrier, never change
Spurrier couldn’t go into the offseason without one last dig at Clemson.
He’s truly a beauty.
Teddy Mitrosilis writes and edits college football for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.