COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH/AP) -- South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney has returned to the football field for spring workouts after an offseason of questions about whether the defensive end should play this fall and risk injury.
Several NFL analysts say the 6-foot-6, 256-pound sophomore would be the first pick in this year's draft if he were eligible to turn pro. But Tuesday Clowney participated in drills, working on his technique and working toward the 2013 Gamecocks' season. He is poised to be one of college football's biggest stars next fall.
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward says Clowney has plenty of room to grow and hasn't reached his full potential.
"If I could get him to play 100 percent all the time he might be unstoppable," said Ward. "If he want to be the No. 1 player picked in the draft he's got to play harder. He understands that. If he wants to make a play, it's obvious he can do that. I want him to make a play every time. So I want him to give me that effort."
Head coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday there was never a doubt Clowney would play this fall for the Gamecocks. Spurrier says Clowney has handled the attention well and is prepared for the hype that's likely to follow him throughout the season.
"I know it's something that people like to talk about and there's a lot of talk show that got to have something to talk about. So anyway, that puts South Carolina out there, helps us a little bit," said Spurrier. "He's (Clowney) an exuberant type young man and I think he's handled it pretty well and we'll work with him. He knows what he's got to do. He's just got to be a good teammate and do what everybody else does. He knows all that."
Last week, Clowney appeared on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated touting the start of spring practice. The publication touted Clowney as "football's next bust-out star."