Johnny Manziel is the player that receives more of the media spotlight and criticism. He has brought much of the attention on himself with some of his actions off the field and his sometimes lively Twitter account. He regularly refers to himself as "just a 20-year old college kid," but he's also spent his offseason in NBA locker rooms, MLB dugouts, and at prestigious awards shows. Essentially, what no other 20-year old college kid in America is doing.
Brock Huard of ESPN made a comment yesterday about how he thinks Johnny Manziel enjoys the spotlight and receiving the LeBron-like attention. Yet, there is a different guy in the SEC who most resembles LeBron James.
It's Jadeveon Clowney.
Anyone who follows college or NFL football knows about Clowney. Actually, many people knew about him four years ago when he was a junior in high school. He was talked about as a transcendent player with unbelievable athleticism who would become an unstoppable superstar.
During Clowney's senior season, he recorded 162 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, and scored five touchdowns on defense. By the way, he also played some running back, carrying the ball 32 times for 277 yards and nine touchdowns. 14 touchdowns from a defensive end and part-time running back!
Clowney was the undisputed No. 1 recruit in America when he graduated in 2011 and many considered him to be one of the best players in the history of high school football.
The 6'6", 247-pound defensive end with incredible strength and speed was a phenom and everyone knew it before he even graduated from high school. Sound like anyone familiar from the game of basketball?
LeBron James was talked about in the same regard during his high school career in Akron, Ohio.
And much like James, Clowney has lived up to the hype.
Despite incredible expectations, Jadeveon Clowney has proved that he's as good as everyone thought he we would be.
He was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
Although he regularly faces double teams, chip blocks, and any type of offensive scheme possible to slow him down, Clowney still recorded 13 sacks last season, which was third in the nation. He also had one of the most unbelievable hits and fumble recoveries you'll ever see in South Carolina's bowl game against Michigan.
Clowney enters his junior season as the most dominant defensive player in college football and a preseason candidate to win the Heisman Trophy. He's also viewed as a virtual lock to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
He's the type of player that requires the complete attention of the opposition. Even when teams do everything they can to stop him, he still figures out a way to make a play. And if an offense puts too much focus on him, it opens up opportunities for Clowney's teammates.
In many ways, it's like the attention LeBron James creates when he has the ball in his hands and he attacks the basket.
We all thought Jadeveon Clowney would be great, but we didn't realize he'd be this great.
We should have known better.
But like LeBron James, Clowney's ability is simply unbelievable.