GROVETOWN — As three former South Carolina players helped run an Atlanta Falcons Heads Up Clinic on Tuesday night, another Gamecock remained the talk of the football world.
Jadeveon Clowney, the 6-foot-5, 266-pound South Carolina defensive end, wowed observers at Monday’s NFL Combine with his 40-yard dash time (4.53 seconds) and vertical leap (37½ inches).
Rumors are swirling that the Falcons might trade up four spots to No. 2 in May’s NFL Draft to grab Clowney, and Atlanta defensive end Cliff Matthews supports the potential move.
“I’d love to have him,” Matthews said. “I wish the young man much success. He just needs to continue working hard and stay healthy.”
Matthews, defensive tackle Travian Robertson and fullback Patrick DiMarco – all former South Carolina standouts and current Atlanta players – participated in the Falcons’ Heads Up Clinic, in partnership with Kids & Pros, at Grovetown High School.
Instructors at the clinic, which featured about 200 children ages 6 to 14, taught proper tackling techniques and other football skills.
Buddy Curry, who played linebacker for Atlanta for eight seasons during the 1980s, is a master trainer for USA Football’s Heads Up program. Curry said the clinic gives children awareness and education about proper tackling, and it also teaches them to have fun.
The Falcons had little fun last season during their 4-12 campaign. Matthews said he’s already started working toward next season as Atlanta prepares for the free-agency period and then the draft.
The Falcons have major needs along the offensive line and at defensive end. If Atlanta decides to go after Clowney, DiMarco said he’d enjoy having another Gamecock as a teammate.
“His athletic ability for his size is out of this world,” he said. “He’s a tremendous player. The sky’s the limit for him. If the Falcons get him, I’d be thrilled.”
Curry echoed the sentiments of DiMarco and Matthews.
“I’d love to see Jadeveon Clowney wearing a Falcons uniform,” Curry said. “I’d love to see him practicing hard every day, playing every play like he’s passionate about it, because he’s obviously the best talent that’s come in the league in a while.”