COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina star defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney held a press conference to admit to fabricating the existence of Clemson University starting quarterback Tajh Boyd for the purpose of garnering media attention and award consideration.
"I first came up with the idea my freshman year of high school," said a visibly shaken Clowney, flanked by University of South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and athletic director Ray Tanner. "People were already sayin' I was gonna be the number one recruit and my expectations would be higher than any player in recent history. I panicked, and hatched the plan. It was a mistake, and I regret it."
Clowney then paused to collect himself while Tanner patted the back of the 6'5" All-American.
"While I am confident in my abilities," continued Clowney, "I knew that creating Tajh would go a long way in establishing myself as an elite defender with multiple highlight reel plays."
To accomplish this, Clowney enlisted a team of covert operatives working within every major network and college football news outlet. Additionally, he hired a Hampton, VA-area actor by the name of Ted Slattery, 42, to pose as sought-after high school propsect Tajh Boyd. Slattery has no official film or television credits.
Pressed for comment, Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney appeared dismayed. "I remember visiting Tajh at home when I was recruiting him," Swinney said. "He had, like, three kids. I asked if his son was home, and he said 'Oh, no, I'm Tajh.' So that raised my eyebrows. But he said he was all in, so what was I gonna do?"
Clowney's ruse extended to Swinney's homebase, the campus of the upstate South Carolina college. "I also installed a team at Clemson University to complement the hoax," said Clowney. "They worked in collusion with my teams at CBS, ABC, ESPN, and FOX Sports to make sure everyone was on the same page."
Added Clowney, "It's literally the only reason I took an official there."
"Lemme just say, we don't approve of this sorta thing. But JD Clowney's a fine young man," said Spurrier, in his eighth year as head coach of the University. "Honest? I'm kinda impressed. JD displayed an impressive ability to run a complex operation with a ton of personnel and moving parts and so forth. It's the sort of mental dexterity that shows why he was the number one recruit. But anyway, we'll try not to worry about all that."
Clowney has 5.5 career sacks of the mythical quarterback, including 4.5 in the most recent contest. South Carolina won that game by a score of 27-12.
"I know the fact that the entire country saw me viciously destroy Tajh in prime time is part of the reason my reputation is where it is today. The media picked up on what I was doing and ran away with it." said Clowney. "But that's when everyone thought he existed. He doesn't."
According to ESPN Draft Expert Mel Kiper, Clowney will still be viewed as the top commodity in the 2014 draft.
"Sure, we media types have some egg on our face for playing up Clowney's dominance without first confirming the existence of Tajh Boyd," said Kiper. "But rest assured, this changes nothing in the eyes of NFL Scouts. Clowney's got that once-in-a-generation ability to convince millions of fans that a quarterback exists. That in and of itself is something; but it's the speed in which he gets to that fake quarterback that's making NFL scouts drool."
"Incidentally, Boyd's stock has fallen a bit in the wake of all this. Good call, going back to school."
Clowney expressed remorse, but will not leave the team or miss any time in the 2013 season. "The NCAA has a lot of crazy rules but somehow nothing I did was technically wrong. So yeah, I'll be back in 2013. And, hey, 'Tajh' already announced he'll be back, so I'll see him in November!" said a grinning Clowney, eliciting a round of laughter from the media present.
Added Clowney: "Oh, I also made up Aaron Murray."