"Did he play with his hair on fire every single snap? No," Smith said. "But do we worry about his work ethic? We don't at all. We think this guy will come in ... he's ready to work. After the selection, he talked about wanting to come in and work. This guy's motivated. He's extremely motivated. He wants to be great."
He's been great so far.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound defensive end left high school as the No. 1-ranked player and shattered a South Carolina record for sacks, notching 13 in 2012. His 24 sacks in three seasons rank third all-time for the school, and he left college ranked fifth in forced fumbles and tackles for loss among active FBS players.
Clowney has played end throughout his career, but the Texans will ask him to play outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's 3-4 system. They're excited about not only Clowney's pass-rushing skills, but also his ability to set the edge against the run.
"I'm pretty athletic and I know I can play anywhere," Clowney said. "Whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do."
Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel has experience with the transition Clowney will be asked to make, and he's already let Clowney know he will be tough on him.
The Texans already have an elite pass-rusher in end J.J. Watt, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. Watt and Clowney spoke over the phone shortly after the selection. Watt wanted to make sure his new teammate knew he was going to push him.
"He told me he's going to give me every piece of knowledge to help me improve my game and he's going to stay on me like a mentor or a big brother to me," Clowney said. "And I told him I appreciate that, and I'm looking forward to working with him."