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Oct 09, 2013 03:42 PM EDT

Steve Spurrier Apologizes For Calling Out Jadaveon Clowney (VIDEO); South Carolina DE's Draft Stock Won't Be Affected... For Now


South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier publicly apologized Tuesday for questioning the heart of his star defensive end, Jadaveon Clowney, and reaffirmed his confidence in the All American lineman, according to ESPN.

Clowney has been all over the sports headlines and talks shows for requesting to sit out last week's game against Kentucky (a game South Carolina barely won) just hours before game time - despite getting clearance from team doctors and trainers.

Compounding the situation were comments Spurrier made following the game in which he said Clowney could "come play for the team if he wants. But if he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. Simple as that."

Clowney claimed he wasn't hurt (mentally) by his coach's post game comments, Spurrier wanted to clear the air during his weekly press conference.

"Let me say this about Jadeveon: If he never plays another snap here, we all should be thankful and appreciative that he came to South Carolina," he said. "We've won 26 games, two 11-2 years, the greatest seasons we've had in the history of this school, so none of us need to be upset at Jadeveon, none of us. I'm all for Jadeveon and his future, and when he's ready to play, we're going to put him out there."

Of Clowney's injury, which was a muscle strain near his rib area, accordigng to ESPN, Spurrier said: "He was in pain. It was diagnosed later, and obviously we all handled it poorly. All of us did."

Clowney sympathized with his coach.

"He's really competitive," Clowney said Tuesday. "He was just saying stuff. It's all right.

"When I get back healthy, I'm going to play and do my job and take care of business on the field," he said.

Prior to the season, Clowney was projected by many to be the No. 1 pick for the 2014 NFL Draft. With that in mind, some believe he may the 6-foot-6, 274-pound junior is taking this season cautiously, which, somewhat paradoxically, could actually hurt his draft stock.

Further impacting last year's SEC Player of the Year and the nation's best defensive lineman award-winner is that he simply hasn't been playing as well. Less sacks, less tackles for a loss, and according to one ESPN analyst, "he goes for the home run every play."

Sports Illustrated projected him No. 2 in their rankings two weeks ago and SB Nation had him at No, 1 last week, as per those websites.

It seems, for now. Clowney is safely holding down the No. 2 position, according to statements made by an NFL personnel executive to USA Today

"Nah, no one will care," said the executive when questioned about Clowney's last minute absence. "If he's healthy, works out well and most importantly interviews well, it won't hurt him."

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