In 2014 the Houston Texans held the first pick in the NFL draft and used that selection on stand out pass rushing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, from the South Carolina Gamecocks. Clowney had a down season in 2013 for the Gamecocks, but was still a freak of an athlete who added to his allure by exploding at the NFL Scouting Combine.
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After weighing in at 266 pounds he posted an insane 4.53 second time in the 40 yard dash. That time for someone of such size is an anomaly and fans immediately began salivating at the prospect of putting Clowney at the outside linebacker spot to pair with defensive end J.J. Watt.
Sadly, the pair never got much time together as the rookie went down with an inury in his debut game. He suffered a torn lateral meniscus and articular cartilage damage which required arthroscopic surgery. Clowney returned only to be hurt again and need microfracture surgery in December.
His rookie season was almost nonexistent as he finished with four games played and a total of seven tackles.
“Rehab is (a lot) tougher than playing” – Clowney
To make matters even worse other players jumped on the injured rookie, claiming he will never be the same after going through the dreaded surgery. Division rival Indianapolis Colts tackle Gosder Cherilus went as far as to say the young man was “screwed” and will never be the same.
While the consensus seems to be that the road ahead is an uphill battle, news from Clowney himself continues to be positive.
A report by Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com highlights the fact that rehab for the linebacker has been rather encouraging. Clowney even went as far as to say he believes he will return to the same form that once made him the most intriguing prospect in the nation.
"“I’m very confident about that,” Clowney said, speaking for the first time since his Dec. 8 surgery. “This rehab’s going to help me a lot to get back towards playing.”"
Texans fans have to hope that the optimism is not false and that he can return to be a terror on the field. After enduring a tough rehab the strength and character of Clowney is sure to grow as well. He also spoke about how challenging it has been to attempt to regain his burst in the injured knee.
"“Rehab is (a lot) tougher than playing,” Clowney said. “You gotta be in there earlier than everybody, you’ve gotta leave later than everybody. That’s a lot tougher than playing.”"
One thing for sure is that if Houston can get him back on the field on 2015, their defense should be able to once again become one of the most feared in all the NFL. Clowney’s optimistic tone should help fans feel encouraged about such a possibility.