“His neck and back (are) stiff,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “Whether he goes another snap [this spring], I don’t care.”
The All-American defensive end reportedly sprained his neck last week when he collided with defensive tackle J.T. Surratt in practice. Clowney was not cleared for practice Tuesday, but he seemed optimistic his absence the rest of the week will not hurt his preparation for 2013.
“It’s not really about being out here,” Clowney told reporters. “It’s about learning the playbook. We put in some new stuff, so all I have to do is learn the play calls. The rest of it, I’ll catch up on.”
As long as Clowney’s neck heals properly, there should be no fallout from this injury other than disappointment for fans watching the annual Garnett & Black Spring Game on Saturday. Clowney is expected to be a Heisman Trophy candidate after ranking second nationally in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23½).
While Clowney might not be in pads, he will be honored at halftime as the winner of the 2012 Ted Hendricks Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive end. Former college and NFL great Ted Hendricks will be on hand to present the trophy with Gamecocks’ coach Steve Spurrier.