ATHENS, GA (WACH) - There has been plenty of high praise for Jadeveon Clowney for the better part of a year, but Georgia coach Mark Richt may have taken the prize for best superlative.
On Monday, Richt called South Carolina's All-American defensive end the "very best player who exists today, at any level."
That would, of course, include the NFL, where Clowney is projected to be the top pick in the 2014 Draft, and is home to some of the world's most elite athletes. But, Clowney has yet to play a single snap at that level, or a single play in the 2013 college football season for the Gamecocks.
Richt made the comments during a fan day event on Monday when a fan asked the coach if it would be tougher to gameplan for Clowney or Texas A & M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Richt spoke highly of Manziel, but saved his highest praise for the SEC defensive player of the year.
"I would say Clowney is the best football player in the world though," said Richt. "Seriously. I think he might be the very best player who exists today, at any level."
Richt's comments come just two weeks after Clowney said at SEC Media Days that Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is afraid of him. Clowney also noted Clemson's Tajh Boyd and several other SEC quarterbacks had fear in their eyes when they saw the defensive end lined up against them.
At the time, Richt noted he would be afraid of Clowney too if the 270-pounder were trying to drag him to the turf.
You have to wonder if Richt's latest comments are the real deal, or a little gamemanship to get Clowney to buy into more of the headlines about him.
Clowney collected a sack and two tackles for loss last season in South Carolina's 35-7 dismantling of the Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. He also had two quarterback sacks in USC's 2011 win over Georgia.
South Carolina looks to win its fourth straight over Georgia when the teams square off September 7 in Athens.
(Information from The Macon Telegraph contributed to this report.)