Strait Herron, Clowney's old defensive coordinator who's now the head coach at South Pointe -- Carroll coaches at nearby York -- said a couple of NFL teams have been in town recently doing their homework on Clowney. They asked if he ever got caught cheating, and whether he had problems with teachers or girls. Herron said one official from the St. Louis Rams stopped at the Rock Hill police department and made a trip to the school office to look through his disciplinary file. South Pointe principal Al Leonard held off on releasing it until he got permission from Clowney, per federal law, but he gave the Rams his thoughts on the kid he knew, the 17-year-old who was the biggest recruit in the country, whose phone rang constantly, to the point where South Pointe's phones rang constantly. Leonard said Clowney was a "good kid" who stayed out of trouble.
South Pointe ran the triple option when Clowney was there, and he was so big and wide and talented that the offense couldn't run its plays with him on the field. So the coaches would ask him to stand on the sideline, and he'd proceed to joke around with his coaches while his teammates sweated away.
Herron wondered if that's part of the reason Clowney's work habits get knocked. He was at a practice last year at the Outback Bowl and watched Spurrier pull him when Clowney exploded off the edge and was in quarterback Connor Shaw's face on back-to-back snaps.
Did it promote bad work habits for Clowney? Motivational speaker Eric Chester, who wrote the book, "Reviving Work Ethic -- A Leader's Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Workforce," said Clowney is in a no-win situation on those occasions.
"What's he supposed to be doing?" Chester said. "Drawing out the defensive game plan or studying for his geometry final? It's just a testimony to Clowney's incredible ability.
"But here's something to think about: Why are so many critics so eager to credit Clowney's physical superiority to genetics? If you examined his entire life on video, perhaps any of his natural 'gifts' have been augmented by hard work when no one was watching."
Carroll figures Clowney got some of those gifts from his father. The coach texted a photo of David Morgan, who has biceps that look as big as his son's. Morgan was arrested for robbing a check-cashing business in 1995, and spent much of Jadeveon's childhood years in prison. But he did his time, and bonded with his son. Carroll said Morgan hates the way the media focuses on his prison time. The bad stuff.
A few weeks ago, Spurrier backpedaled on his comments about Clowney's work ethic. He said he was comparing Clowney to former teammate Marcus Lattimore, which was unfair because no one works as hard as Lattimore.
Clowney was a sophomore in 2012 when Lattimore suffered a knee injury so gruesome that the YouTube video of the play has capital letters in its headline that say, "GRAPHIC FOOTAGE." Lattimore's injury came in his third season at South Carolina, when he was too young to declare for the draft.
Clowney, Carroll said, took stock in his career after watching Lattimore get hurt. Though Lattimore eventually was taken by San Francisco in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, his injury made Clowney realize how quickly an athlete can lose everything. Clowney battled injuries to his ribs and foot in 2013. In October, he approached his coaches before a game against Kentucky and said his ribs were too sore for him to play.