Clowney carries on Rock Hill pipeline

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- For much of the football world, NFL draft day is nothing short of a national holiday.

But in this former textile and mill town of about 66,000 people, some 25 miles south of Charlotte, N.C., it's become just another day.

In these parts, they do a few things religiously.

They go to church on Sunday mornings and still say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am." The high school kids cruise up and down Cherry Road, and they produce world-class football players.

The latest is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who's projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, which begins Thursday night with the first round.

Clowney will become the third straight player from one of the three Rock Hill high schools to hear his name called in the first round, a distinction no other city or town in America can claim.

Not Miami. Not Los Angeles. Not Dallas. At least not during the past three years.

"When you're from Rock Hill, it's really sort of the expectation now," Clowney said. "I know a lot of kids who play football grow up dreaming about being drafted. But in our town, it's more than just a dream.

"A lot of great players have come before me, and a lot more are coming."

Clowney, who's in New York City for the first round, will become the 11th player to have played his high school football in Rock Hill to be drafted in the last 13 years.

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