College football fans are familiar with Kirk Herbstreit. More so for his job as an analyst for ESPN than his playing days as quarterback at Ohio State.
With a Gamecock as a potential No. 1 NFL draft pick, WIS caught up with Herbstreit on the morning of the draft. Like many others in his line of work, "Herbie" speculated where he thought Jadeveon Clowney would end up.
"I think the Houston Texans are sitting there at number one and there's so many names that they're looking at," he said. "But I think that the guy that's probably the safest pick and the guy that they'll end up picking will be Jadeveon Clowney."
And he was correct with his prediction. The Texans selected Clowney with No. 1 pick in the draft.
"I think when you're such a unique player like Jadeveon Clowney you can fit anywhere," said Herbstreit. "I just think he's a rare breed, just a very gifted athlete that we've known about since, really, he was in high school. And he's lived up to his billing there in Columbia, South Carolina for Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks and now he's off to the NFL. I think he'll have a great career."
Clowney admitted criticism from the media motivated him to work harder to get into NFL shape. Herbstreit says after "The Hit" against Michigan, the expectation level for this past season was so high, there was no room for failure.
"I think it raised the bar so high, it was almost he had unrealistic expectations for his junior year," he said. "But he just has to avoid letting that outside pressure and that outside world get to him. Whether it motivates him or gets him down, he just has to focus on his team and playing the best that he can every single down. Working hard in the off season and being a good teammate."
"If he does all those things, with the freakish skill set that he has, he'll have a brilliant career," Herbstreit said. "'There are some questions out there about is he willing to work as hard as he needs to be as good as he needs to be? So we'll see. I'm sure a lot of people are providing a lot of motivation for him."
Herbstreit also addressed the expectations for another Palmetto State product, this one from Clemson.
"I think Sammy Watkins is going to be maybe the most electrifying player that's selected in this year's draft," he said. "I don't know where he's going to end up, but I think whoever gets him, I think, will get the premier playmaker from the draft. I think Sammy had a great year this past year and I think his skills fit very nicely into the NFL and somebody's going to get a great player. I'm as excited to watch Sammy Watkins as most people are to watch Jadeveon Clowney."
Careful what you say to the folks in Columbia, Herbie.
"I just want to say this also," as he offered balance to his Watkins comment. "Steve Spurrier's done an amazing job in building that program. Almost every year, despite losing great players like Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney.Next year they're going to be right in the thick of things in the SEC East and I think that speaks volumes to the job that he's done in building a great program as opposed to having a few superstars. I think he's done a great job."
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