Former South Carolina star defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney will have his No. 7 jersey retired by the program at halftime of the program’s season-opener against Georgia State on Sept. 3. Clowney was a two-time first-team All-American during his Gamecocks career before going No. 1 in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Clowney ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation out of Rock Hill, South Carolina, in the Class of 2011 and completely lived up to his billing. The in-state product earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in the nation in 2012. Clowney’s three seasons in Columbia, South Carolina, rank as perhaps the greatest three-year run in program history. South Carolina went 33-6 from 2011-13 under Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier.
“We are excited to honor one of our greatest Gamecock football players ever, Jadeveon Clowney, by retiring his jersey at our first game of the season,” South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said in a statement. “He helped lead us to three 11-win seasons as one of the best players in college football.”
Clowney posted 129 tackles, 47 tackles for loss and 24 sacks in a standout career for the Gamecocks. Despite playing just three seasons, his sack total ranks No. 3 in program history. His best season came during his sophomore year as Clowney posted 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and a single-season program record 13 sacks. A record 4.5 of those sacks came in a 27-17 victory over rival No. 11 Clemson in 2012.
His performance was so impressive that some suggested he should sit out his junior season to prepare for the draft. However, Clowney ultimately starred again for the 11-2 Gamecocks as they finished No. 4 in the AP Top 25, the best finish in program history.
Clowney was ultimately selected No. 1 in the draft by the Houston Texans and earned three Pro Bowl nods and an All-Pro selection. He is currently a starting defensive end for the Cleveland Browns.
Clowney becomes the fifth South Carolina football player to have his jersey retired, joining Sterling Sharpe, Steve Wadiak, Mike Johnson and Heisman-winner George Rogers. He is the 21st overall athlete to have his number retired by South Carolina.
However, South Carolina policy also states that while Clowney’s jersey will be retired and recognized, his number will still be available. Transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler and senior EDGE rusher Jordan Strachan both currently wear No. 7 for the Gamecocks.