CBS Sports writer Bruce Feldman ranked South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 on his college football "Freak List" in May 2013. Grantland's Andrew Sharp recently published a piece entitled: "ALERT: Jadeveon Clowney Is Not Safe for College Football."
He's been called a freak, a beast and an animal by the sports media. Even his own strength and conditioning coach said, "Clowney is more violent than anybody I've ever seen." He's even generating some Heisman buzz, despite being a purely defensive player.
Well, Clowney may be eying the Heisman Trophy, but he's already got a pretty sweet one in his life already. He and Kirsten Hardy met through mutual friends in December 2012.
At the time, she and her identical twin sister Kristen were both Atlanta Hawks cheerleaders, two-year veterans of the squad. And yes, just in case you were wondering, he can tell the difference between the two of them—even if you can't.
Clowney and Hardy have been together through most, if not all, of 2013. Which explains why she's only actually seen him play in one game so far—his bone-crushing performance in the Outback Bowl. You can be sure she'll be tuning in to a lot more South Carolina games this fall.
So is it serious? Like seriously serious?
Well, it's hard to tell. It's only been a few months, but in an email correspondence with Bleacher Report, Kirsten says he's "really sweet and mature for his age," so perhaps we'll be seeing her sitting next to him at the 2014 NFL draft.
If she is there with him, Hardy can expect Lauren Tannehill levels of attention in the immediate aftermath. Particularly if Clowney goes No.1 overall, as he's projected.
In January 2013, Clowney reached superstardom, if not mythical status, when he delivered a blow on Michigan running back Vincent Smith during the Outback Bowl. Granted, that description really doesn't do the hit heard 'round the college football world justice.
It came after a very controversial call in which the Wolverines clearly did not convert on a fourth down, but were awarded one anyway. Since the referee decided he didn't want to give the ball to the Gamecocks, Clowney decided he'd go out there and take it.
And take it he did, on the very next play. Smith looked like he got hit by a garbage truck, as his helmet popped off and he turned over the ball, looking like roadkill as South Carolina recovered the ball and went on to win the game.
Anyone who didn't know the name Jadeveon Clowney before then, certainly knew it after.
The name Kirsten Hardy may not have the same level of recognition, but she and her sister Kristen have recently relocated to Charlotte for job opportunities and to be closer to her man in Columbia.
The Hawks fans' loss, however, could be the Bobcats fans' gain. They intend to try out for the squad this year. Finally, Bobcats fans will have something to cheer about, and Clowney has something else to cheer about—because we all know things are coming up aces for that kid these days.
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