Clowney played hurt at South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney didn't have the monster season everyone expected in 2013. His final season at South Carolina raised questions about his drive and conditioning after he seemed too gassed during games and recorded a career-low three sacks.

It was clear there were times when Clowney didn't give it his all or took plays off, and the former SEC star admitted as much after last season. To his credit, Clowney did have to have foot surgery to help with bone spurs, meaning he played through pain pretty much the entire season.

But it sounds like there was even more pain for Clowney to do deal with during his final season with the Gamecocks. According to a report, Clowney, who was drafted first overall by the Houston Texans in this year's NFL draft, played with a sports hernia injury through the 2013 season. Clowney had sports hernia surgery two weeks ago, which forced him to miss the Texans' minicamp.

Now, the rub on Clowney last season was that he didn't give it 100 percent, leaving some to wonder if he would have the mental edge to compete at the next level. We all knew Clowney was the most physically gifted player the SEC had to offer when he stepped on the field, but his 2013 resume left so much to be desired. I'm not here to make excuses for Clowney, but playing with a sports hernia isn't exactly the most comfortable of things.

Especially for a player who has to constantly thrust his body into another behemoth of a man at a high rate of speed. And when you are Clowney, you probably had to deal with constant double-teams.

After further review, yes, Clowney had to deal with double-teams... over and over.

To ours and Clowney's standards, he didn't have a great final season in Columbia. He just wasn't the consistent force we had seen before. He didn't come close to living up to the hype, but maybe the injuries contributed to that. Honestly, it had to, and there is no denying he played through nagging pain all season, whether it was a sports hernia or his foot.

How much better would Clowney have been if he was healthy? Would Clowney have been more inclined to dial it back a notch at times if he knew he wasn't at risk for making his injuries more serious? We don't know, but we do know Clowney dealt with more complications than we originally thought.