A defensive end from South Carolina Clowney has long been predicted to be the first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft thanks to his preternatural combination of speed and power. Had NFL rules permitted him to make the move from playing on Saturdays to competing on Sundays earlier then he could possibly have been the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft after his sophomore season.
In the final game of that sophomore campaign, the 6'6" 266-pound force of nature produced an absolutely jaw-dropping play that established his place atop NFL Draft boards and in the nightmares of offensive players. With his Gamecocks trailing Michigan 22-21 in fourth quarter of the 2013 Outback Bowl, Clowney burst into the backfield and separated running back Vincent Smith from his helmet as well as the football. In one made-for-GIF moment, the legend of Clowney was born.
(GIF via @dantoman)
Although his 2013 season at South Carolina got off to an uneven start, Clowney continued to make the sort of explosive plays that earned him the "next Lawrence Taylor" tag.
(GIF via @BuzzFeedSports)
At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in March, Clowney let it be known that he wanted to be the No. 1 overall selection. His jaw-dropping performance in the 40-yard dash didn't hurt his case.
(GIF via @SBNationNFL)
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally put them on the clock at Radio City Music Hall, the Houston Texans finally did what everyone expected them to do: The team selected Clowney with the first overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft.