Mark Richt clarifies remarks about Jadeveon Clowney

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ATHENS, Ga. — Mark Richt’s comments earlier this week about star South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney drew plenty of attention.

And not only in Columbia.

The Georgia coach told a Georgia alumni gathering Monday in Duluth, Ga., that Clowney “is the best football player in the world.”

On the ESPN show Pardon The Interruption, the quote came up in a word game segment.

Tony Kornheiser called the comment “myopic.” Michael Wilbon used the term “premature.”

Richt also had said that Clowney “might be the very best player who exists today at any level.”

On Thursday Richt was asked if he said what he meant to say.

“I forgot exactly how I said it,” Richt said. “I said he might be the best one on the planet or something like that and it became news. I think that Clowney, I think he’s the best college football player in America. There’s a couple other guys you could debate on that. …I think if you give him a couple of years of him learning, once he’s in the NFL and he’s got a couple of years going through that learning curve or whatever, my bet is he’ll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way to say it.”

FLORIDA: The Gators will open workouts today without four offensive starters – including quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones – and have no timetable for reinstating suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison.

Guards Jon Halapio (pectoral) and Max Garcia (back) won’t be on the field, either.

Driskel had an appendectomy Tuesday, but coach Will Muschamp said he should be back within two weeks.

Jones has a “serious viral infection,” according to Muschamp.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN: As a player, Jaybo Shaw helped return Georgia Southern to its winning ways.

Now Shaw returns to help some more.

The 23-year-old former quarterback crossed Eagle Creek on Thursday in a new role – a graduate assistant coach – as the Eagles opened preseason football practice.

Shaw, who will be working on a master’s degree in sports management, joined the staff about two weeks ago and will be helping assistant Lamont Seward with the Eagle running backs.

VANDERBILT: James Franklin is changing nothing in his message going into his third season, no matter the expectations for a team with the Southeastern Conference’s longest winning streak and the Commodores’ best season in nearly a century.

“This team hasn’t achieved anything,” Franklin said Thursday. “That’s going to be our focus.”

The Commodores open fall practice with 17 starters back from a team that went 9-4 in 2012, won the Music City Bowl and finished ranked No. 23 in the final poll for the first time in decades.

OKLAHOMA: It didn’t take long for the three-way quarterback competition to be reduced to two.

Sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson suffered a fractured right foot on the first day of practice Thursday.

He was expected to battle junior Blake Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight for the job.

MISSOURI: James Franklin opens fall camp as Missouri’s starting quarterback and one of the captains, too.

Coach Gary Pinkel emphasized after the first fall practice that the honor based on balloting by teammates is no guarantee he’ll still have the job when the season begins.

The return of running back Henry Josey, coming off a serious left knee injury that sidelined him all last season, will be a plus no matter who’s taking the snaps. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser, who made four starts when Franklin was injured last season, are also in the mix.

TEXAS CHRISTIAN: Offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje has quit the team for personal reasons.

The release from the school Thursday gave no details.

Fabuluje was expected to start at right tackle this season. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound junior started 12 games last year, 10 at left tackle. He was one of three returning starters on the offensive line for the Horned Frogs.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai is listed as the backup on the depth chart. The sophomore played five games last season.

TCU opens its season against LSU at Cowboys Stadium on Aug. 31.


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