“Big hits,” he said. “I’m all about hitting. I don’t care who it is.”
That’s what the Houston Texans are counting on from the South Carolina defensive end after skipping a chance to take a quarterback – their top need – with the top pick Thursday night. Clowney was introduced on Friday in Houston, joining a team that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
Clowney was already known as a top player before that hit in the Outback Bowl. But when he burst through the line and crashed into Vincent Smith, knocking his helmet off and the ball out of his hands in the process, his star power reached another level.
He hopes to pile up plenty more highlight-reel hits this season, but knows he’ll have to be careful about how he delivers them.
“That’s what I live for is making big hits,” he said. “I hope I don’t get no fines this year. I might have to dial it down a little.”
New Houston coach Bill O’Brien, who took over a team that hasn’t won since Sept. 15, raved about Clowney’s many attributes. But one thing stood out to O’Brien as he got to know Clowney.
“He really talked about how much he loved winning and how winning was important to him,” O’Brien said. “These are the type guys that we’re looking for, we’re looking for team guys, we’re looking for tough guys, we’re looking for guys that are going to come in here and understand that they’re part of a team and they’re coming here to work hard.”
Houston general manager Rick Smith obviously coveted Clowney for his pass-rushing ability, but values his attitude perhaps just as much.
“He’s driven, and in my opinion very committed to being an excellent football player, and we need that,” Smith said.
Clowney doesn’t model his play after any player in particular, but he does study many guys to elevate his game.
“I watch J.J. Watt, I watch Ray Lewis, I watch Lawrence Taylor before games,” Clowney said.
Clowney got a good laugh during Friday’s news conference when O’Brien referred to him as J.D.
“I guess he has trouble pronouncing Jadeveon,” Clowney said. “So I told him: ‘Just call me J.D., man. We’re going to keep it simple.’ And it’s quicker and easier.”
This isn’t anything new to Clowney, who said people say his unique name wrong all the time.
“I ask mom: ‘Where you get that name from?’ I mispronounce it sometimes,” he joked. “It’s all right though. I’ve got so many nicknames, people give me J., J.D. call me Clowney, 7. I’ve got so many names. Just don’t call me Clown.”
Everyone in his family has names that starts with the letter ‘J,’ and his mother wanted to incorporate his father David’s name into her son’s and came up with the hybrid name.
Clowney grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which has a population of less than 70,000 people. He’s excited about moving to big city, but is a bit concerned about the traffic in Houston, home to more than 2 million people.
“I better get here early,” Clowney said. “If I got to be here at 8, I’ve got to get up at 5:30-6, get going and get here on time.”