INDIANAPOLIS – Remember that play South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney made against Michigan in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. If you've ever watched ESPN's top plays you know the one I'm talking about – Clowney broke through the Wolverines front, buried the ball carrier immediately, caused a fumble and recovered it all in one motion.
The World Wide leader showcased it as its top play for weeks, and virtually every football has commented on it at one point. It was the kind of play that resonates for quite some time.
Devin Taylor, a 6-7, 266-pound defensive end, was on the field at the time of Clowney's devastating hit. And not surprisingly, it's a topic he recalls fondly.
Just prior to the game-changing moment, Michigan called a fake punt on fourth down and appeared to be tackled short of the first down. The officials brought out the chains, and the ball was short of the stick – clearly. Nonetheless the referee pointed to a first down for the Wolverines as Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier went ballistic.
"We were all pretty upset," Taylor said. "You could say we felt like we were being cheated. But we all just looked at each other and said 'someone make a play.' We just knew that someone would make a play and it turned out to be Jadeveon."
Clowney's forced fumble came on the next snap and South Carolina went on to win in the waning seconds.
Incidentally, Taylor is no slouch himself. While he won't attract the attention Clowney certainly will next year when he's eligible for the draft, he's an athletic guy who could be an intriguing possibility in the middle rounds. He had 18.5 sacks during his career playing on a very talented defense and he's looking forward to the opportunity to continue that production at the next level.
"I played some 4-3 and 3-4 and did some dropping into coverage at South Carolina," Taylor said. "I've played standing up in the past so if someone wants me to play linebacker I could certainly do it."
Maybe even in New England.