Jadeveon Clowney's fame began on the football fields of Rock Hill.
ROCK HILL, SC (WIS) -
In the sports media world, this summer was clearly the Summer of Jadeveon Clowney.
After winning an ESPN award for 'The Hit,' making waves at SEC Media Days, and being the subject of a Bill Brasky-esque profile in the New York Times, Clowney appeared to be the picture of humility when compared to the sports world's other object of affection, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
And that humility all started with his upbringing in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a town sandwiched between Columbia and Charlotte.
If you looked at Clowney's stature and the way he plays, you might say he was born to play football.
But according to his mother, Josenna Clowney, football didn't even enter her son's life until he was 6 or 7 years old.
"People was saying he was bigger than anybody else and that he was going to be good," said Josenna. "But when it really hit was around the 10th or 11th grade."
That's where former South Pointe High School coach Bobby Carroll had the chance to coach the boy up from raw talent to award-winning defensive end.
"We kinda looked at him like, maybe he's just an adult who's lost and walking through a school to cut through to a neighborhood because the school was between two neighborhoods," said Carroll. "We, of course, went up to him and asked him his name, then all of a sudden the light went off and the bells started ringing: Hey, this is a freshman football player of ours."
Clowney's legend grew at South Pointe quickly. By the time his senior year came around, he was the consensus number one recruit in the entire nation.
After months of heavy recruiting from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and South Carolina, Clowney settled on the Gamecocks on his birthday in 2011.
If Clowney's play at South Pointe gave him fame, his play at South Carolina and 'The Hit' at the Outback Bowl has given him legendary, almost mythical status.
Clowney is now in his final year with the Gamecocks. In his swan song season, he has the opportunity to prove to the NFL he is worth the first overall pick in the 2014 Draft.
But in the end, his mother still thinks of him just as that big kid from Rock Hill.