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Sports writers ponder: Should Jadeveon Clowney play in 2013?

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

As Jadeveon Clowney's hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith during the 2013 Outback Bowl wins ESPN SportsCenter's Best of the Best play for the 20th time on Tuesday, the junior defensive end's legend continues to grow.

But with that legend comes questions about what comes next for one of South Carolina's biggest recruits.

A new debate among sports writers and NFL scouts has sprung up, questioning if Clowney should sit for the entire 2013 season to avoid an injury before the 2014 NFL Draft.

That debate appears to have begun in a column by the Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorenson.

"If you're Clowney, what do you do? Give the school everything you have and try to upend the Crimson Tide? Play not to get hurt? Or sign with an agent, get assigned coaches and trainers and spend the season pumping up and preparing for the pros? If Clowney doesn't return to Columbia, South Carolina would be cheated. At the moment, only Clowney is," said Sorenson.

Sorenson's argument brings up former Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore, who saw his draft stock tumble twice due to two knee injuries in two years.

The story was picked up by ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio as well.

"What Clowney gains in 2013 by playing for South Carolina is outweighed dramatically by the risk," writes Florio. "Sure, he'll purchase an insurance policy to replace the money he'd lose if he suffers a career-ending injury. But if he's injured, he's injured. And if it impacts his ability to thrive in the NFL, no insurance policy will change that."

ESPN's draft expert, Mel Kiper, Jr. seems to think Clowney would be the consensus number one pick of this year's draft had he been able to declare. Since Clowney has not finished his third year of eligibility, NCAA rules say he cannot declare.

So should he play? Definitely, said coach Steve Spurrier in an interview with the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

"Those people have never played football, so they say he should sit out and get the money," Spurrier said about sports writers. "That's the only side of sports they see: the money. There's a lot more to it than just the money."

"I hope he plays this year, and I certainly believe he should play."

It seems Clowney himself is mostly ignoring the talk considering he wants to play for a trip to New York City and the Heisman Trophy presentation.

"I believe a defensive player can win the Heisman next year," Clowney said in an interview with ESPN.

The defensive end played well enough this year to receive a sixth place finish in last year's vote.

It also appears Clowney himself has heard the talk, so he took to his twitter account to respond to the chatter. 

"I'm playing lol," said Clowney.

Whatever happens, Clowney is set to be the number one pick of the next draft, and he likely has the hit from the Outback Bowl to thank.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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