Jadeveon Clowney hasn't been able to escape questions about his work ethic at the University of South Carolina. But his preparation for the NFL Draft apparently hasn't raised any concerns.
Anthony Hobgood, who trained Clowney at EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance) leading up to last month's NFL scouting combine, says the potential No. 1 overall pick was "actually one of the best guys in our whole combine class" when it came to his approach.
"He'd be the first guy to show up in the morning. He'd be the first guy to breakfast," Hobgood told USA TODAY Sports. "He got some bad media coverage this past year, and I honestly think he's very misunderstood. He listened. He knew what we asked him to do. He worked hard."
Clowney confirmed he's one of the draft's most freakish athletes with his performance at the combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds and posted a vertical jump of 37½ inches and a broad jump of 124 inches, all at 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds.
A decline in productivity as a junior in 2013 and less-than-flattering remarks from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier have raised flags for NFL scouts. But Clowney's rare physical gifts never have been in doubt.
"His actual mechanics — he was so raw," Hobgood said of his first impression of Clowney. "He's good off of just sheer athletic ability, sheer raw talent. I told the guys, 'If this guy gets in a good program, his upside's insane.'"
According to Hobgood, the focus of Clowney's training for the combine was on making his movements more efficient to improve his speed and acceleration. Among other things, trainers adjusted Clowney's stance for the 40, which he ran faster than any other defensive lineman.
"He's so powerful, when he pushes into the ground, his body travels a greater distance before the next time his foot hits the ground," Hobgood said. "He was really a blank canvas when he got here, because there's so many things we saw that we could improve upon. He's just a natural athlete.
"Whoever picks him up has yet to see his best — and it's not because of his effort."