DE Jadeveon Clowney returning

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is starting Saturday at Arkansas after the All-American defensive end had been questionable with a strained muscle near his ribcage, the team said.

Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward had said Thursday that Clowney would start if healthy when the No. 14 Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) take on the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2).

Clowney took himself out of last week's 35-28 victory over Kentucky a short time before kickoff, saying he was in too much pain from a strained muscle near his ribcage.

The last-minute absence upset caoch Steve Spurrier -- "If he wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants," Spurrier said moments after the Kentucky win -- and led to questions whether the 6-foot-6, 274-pound lineman was fully committed to the Gamecocks or if he was protecting himself for next spring's NFL draft where he's consider a top prospect.

Ward said Clowney successfully finished a second straight day of practice Thursday after missing workouts earlier in the week because of the injury.

"If he's healthy, he's going to start," Ward said. "He practiced two days in a row and I think he's getting better every day."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.