In his three years at South Carolina, two dozen times did Jadeveon Clowney do what, in his own words, he lives for: sacked a quarterback. Some were blindside smearings. Others saw him snatch a fleeing QB by the scruff and yank him turfward. Fumbles were forced. Dreams were crushed. And when the dust settled, there was much rejoicing by you and by me.
Not only is today Jadeveon Clowney's 21st birthday but it's also the three-year anniversary of the day he signed with South Carolina, so it seemed like as good a day as any to remember some of his best efforts. And since we here at The Internet like to rank things, here are Clowney's five greatest sacks.
5. Vanderbilt, 2013. QB: Austyn Carta-Samuels
Clowney fakes the inside move and dekes the everloving snot out of Ryan Semour, who looked about as agile as a marionette trying to keep pace. Clowney flattens Carta-Samuels, stripping the ball in the process and forcing a momentum-sapping turnover. It was one of just three sacks Clowney managed this past season, as well as his lone forced fumble.
4. Arkansas, 2012. QB: Tyler Wilson
FUN FACT: this wasn't a sack. At least it wasn't on the stat sheet. It looks like it was meant to be a zone read keeper but if it was a designed pass it clearly didn't have time to materialize. This might be my favorite of JD's sacks* to watch, simply because of how violent it looks when he goes airborne and full-body corkscrews Wilson to the turf. Also, notice how Clowney fakes as if he's crashing on the half, luring Wilson to keep the ball. That, or he was quick enough to correct a bad read without missing a beat. Either way: silly.
3. Clemson, 2012. QB: Tajh Boyd
(The sack in question comes at 1:27, but why not watch all 4.5?)
Who was Jadeveon Clowney's favorite target? Why, Tajh Boyd of course, who found himself on the business end of more than 25% of JD's sacks. The best of the bunch was Clowney's third solo sack of that record setting night, a blindside job that saw him rocket past a hapless Brandon Thomas and engulf Boyd, who is sincerely hoping he's drafted by the same team as Jadeveon Clowney to spare any future exchanges.
2. Georgia, 2011. QB: Aaron Murray
A few hours before this happened, Jadeveon Clowney logged his first career sack. Two quarters later, he'd get his second: a strip-sack that Melvin Ingram scooped up for second touchdown of the game. It looked like Georgia was attempting a halfback screen, but Isaiah Crowell bumped into Ingram and couldn't get set in time. To be fair, Murray probably wasn't expecting anyone in the backfield so soon. Clowney made him pay, slinging Murray about like a gradeschooler. Like that, a three point lead became a ten point lead. Georgia would score again, but the Gamecocks escaped.
1. Tennessee, 2012. QB: Tyler Bray
Throughout his career, Jadeveon Clowney had a tendency to make plays at crucial junctures. The Hit. The Aaron Murray and Carta-Samuels sacks above. But none match his sack of Tyler Bray in 2012. Not even The Hit, which followed a blown call and set up a touchdown pass, meant so much in context. Clowney had spent the whole game struggling to get past Volunteers tackle Tiny Richardson. He'd managed just two tackles, and none for a loss. Meanwhile, the team had just watched Marcus Lattimore suffer a brutal and senseless injury, less than a year after coming back from his first blowout. All signs were pointing to a late touchdown for UT, and a disheartening loss for South Carolina.
Clowney faked the inside move and dashed outside around Richardson. Bray was stepping into the pocket and had reared back to throw, but Clowney lunged and hooked Bray's throwing arm, causing the ball fall loose. Shaq Wilson dove in and secured the loose ball, ending the scoring threat. While it didn't completely get Carolina out of the woods—you'll recall Victor Hampton picked off Bray's final pass—it obviously squashed a drive that very easily could have crushed the will of a team that was in desperate need of heroics.
Now, the all-important question: what do you think? What's ranked too high? Too low? Any major sacks I missed? Post your own ranking in the comments.
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