INDIANAPOLIS - Jadeveon Clowney wants to enter the NFL the same way he entered college football – as the No. 1 player.
"That’s one of my goals here, to go No. 1," Clowney said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I came out of high school as the No. 1 player so I want to come out of here as the No. 1 guy."
That wasn't all.
"I just want to be the best," Clowney said. "One of the greatest of all time."
For why he should go first overall before a quarterback, Clowney said just look at the Seattle Seahawks, the team that won the Super Bowl.
"The Super Bowl, defense won that game, shut them down, shut them out," Clowney said. "It takes defense to win championships hands down. You had a great quarterback in Peyton Manning, hats off to him also, but defense wins the Super Bowl."
If Clowney does get picked first overall, he won't be the only Gamecock with the Texans. Not only is former teammate D.J. Swearinger there, but owner Bob McNair is a South Carolina graduate.
"When I heard that I was kind of happy," Clowney said about McNair. "Give me a chance to go to the Texans hopefully, but I just hope I get a chance to go somewhere good. I am going to play hard and hope for the best."
Playing hard is a criticism that followed Clowney for much of his junior season. Last season, Clowney's production dropped considerably. In 2012, he had 13 sacks, but just three in 2013.
For the average fan, Clowney was defined by "The Hit" against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl.
"A lot of people expected stuff that was impossible, like 10 sacks a game, 30 tackles-for-loss," Clowney said. "I knew that wasn’t going to happen of course but a lot of people expected it. I just went out there and played my game, hard and physical football like I played my last two years there."
Even Clowney's head coach at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, implied recently that Clowney has questionable work ethic.
"I believe I did work hard. You pull out any practice tape from last year, you’ll see that," Clowney said. " I will always be working hard. No matter where I end up I am going to work hard and give a team everything I’ve got."
In the 2012 season, when Clowney had the much more impressive stats, there was some speculation that he would sit out his junior season to prepare for the draft. Despite what teammates said, Clowney always knew he was playing another year.
Clowney did say, though, if he could have gone pro after his sophomore season, he would have.
"I came off a great season. If there was a chance, I probably would have, but right now that’s over with," Clowney said. "I had to stay a third year, and I did what I had to do, took care of my business with my team, helped them win games. I was excited that we won."