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      USC's Clowney to be on cover of Sports Illustrated

      Clowney is one of several college players from around the country chosen for Sports Illustrated's regional covers.

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - South Carolina defensive standout Jadeveon Clowney has been chosen as Sports Illustrated's newest cover boy.

      The defensive end appears on this week's cover touting the beginning of spring football practice in the college ranks. Clowney is one of several college players from around the country chosen for the regional covers.

      The publication is touting Clowney as "football's next bust-out star."

      Clowney was thrust into the national conversation after a bone-crushing hit on Michigan runningback Vincent Smith in January's Outback Bowl. Video of the hit went viral online within hours after sports networks played the highlight repeatedly.

      Clowney is considered a strong candidate for next year's Heisman trophy after setting a USC record for sacks in a season this past year. A defensive players has never won the award.

      The standout has also been the subject of debate in recent weeks with some suggesting he sit out next season to avoid injury. Many analysts project Clowney would be a sure-fire number one pick in this April's NFL draft if he were eligible to be chosen.

      Clowney hasn't said much during the debate, simply noting on his Twitter account that he is playing, while coaches and former teammates have done the talking for him.

      "Jadeveon likes football. Football players play football," said USC coach Steve Spurrier earlier this month. "They don't wait around on this, that or the other."

      This past weekend at the NFL combine, Clowney's former teammate Marcus Lattimore also said he expects Clowney to play next season. After Lattimore suffered his second straight season-ending knee injury this past October, some started speculating Clowney should sit out the 2013 to avoid a similar situation.

      In mid-February, reports indicated Clowney was seeking an insurance policy to secure his financial future should he suffer a career-ending injury in 2013.