HOOVER, Ala. Jadeveon Clowney's Heisman campaign kicked off Tuesday with a bit of guerrilla marketing. Not that South Carolina's freakish defensive end had any idea what he was doing.
"I don't go to bars," Clowney said during the SEC media days. "I don't drink."
Advantage, Humble Gamecock over Johnny Cocktail?
"I don't tweet," Clowney added. "I stay off the Internet."
Oh yeah, we definitely have ourselves a leader in the clubhouse of public opinion. Judging by recent headlines, Johnny Manziel is practically handing Clowney the Heisman six weeks before kickoff. Homebody over High Roller.
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Until Tuesday, Clowney basically hasn't spoken to the media since a lavish Sports Illustrated story about him in the spring. Not that he had much to say during his SEC rounds. The man is an anti-candidate to begin with. No true defender has ever won the Heisman. If he broke through, it would solidify the SEC's choke hold on the sport. That would be four Heismans in five years, this one making history on the other side of the ball.
As for now, the more Clowney does nothing, the better off the anti-candidate looks in the anti-race.
You don't even have to believe Johnny Mercedes can win consecutive Heismans. History and tradition dictate that Johnny Casino probably isn't going to win again even if it's lights out by 8 p.m. for here on in. With each passing (Manning) Passing Camp, Manziel is taking himself out of the Heisman discussion before the season starts.
As for Clowney's Heisman campaign, as mentioned, there really isn't one. The anti-candidate doesn't want a big to-do and the school is happy to oblige. When you play in the SEC and every game is on TV and your Heisman moment already is immortalized, you don't need publicity, you need a break.
"Who does your hair and who are you wearing?" one hack yelled, red-carpet style, during Clowney's Tuesday availability.
The scary thing is, I think she was halfway serious.
"Media is a tough thing," Clowney said. "Media can be bad, man."
Ask Johnny Tattoo, who has spent the last year practically flagging down the mean ol' media with his antics.
The main question for Clowney this season has to be motivation. How bad does he want it? You know, everything. More All-America love, the SEC East, the SEC. Heck, if he achieves all that he'll fly to New York himself for the Heisman.
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How bad does he want to pursue the NFL having to wait one more season to play in it? If not for that annoying fact, he'd already be there. Theoretically, Clowney could take the year off, vacation in Europe, and still step up to the podium next spring as a high draft choice. He's that good.
Oh, he'll play this season -- spectacularly at times -- but with what kind of motor? Revving toward a championship or biding time until he's on the draft clock?
College football, what's in it for Jadeveon Clowney right now?
"I'm not going to stop playing football," he said. "I can't sit out. I like the game too much to sit out. It's just in me. I'm always going to be hungry on the field. I just love the game too much not to be hungry about it."
No one is questioning Clowney's character, but human nature is human nature. The man woke up the other day and ran a 4.46-second 40 at 268 pounds. That's a heck of a potential franchise-changer running around in that No. 7 jersey. But former teammate Marcus Lattimore blew out his knee twice before he was eligible for the draft. Insurance for Clowney is great. To collect, however, he'd essentially have to end up worse than Lattimore -- with a career-ending injury.
No one wants to see that. We want a season we can have and hold. Clowney lit up Tuesday when asked about a possible SEC Championship Game confrontation with Manziel. That would be the only time they would meet in college.
"Can I get him? Yes, I can get him," Clowney said. "How do I approach him? Full speed. He has to make a move on me. ... I'm going to try to hit him in the mouth."
That's what we want to hear. While we openly question Johnny Flamboyant's character, Clowney has a chance to change voters' minds. While Johnny Shot Glass parties the nights away, Clowney could become that first true defender to win the Heisman.
Voters seem open to the idea. Tim Tebow was the first sophomore to win it. Manziel was the first freshman. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o seemingly cleared the way last year by finishing second with the most points ever by a true defender.
"There is no barrier anymore," Te'o said back then.
But in this anti-race, does the anti-candidate even care?