COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina's top football recruit Jadeveon Clowney was detained and handcuffed briefly by Columbia police early Friday morning because authorities say he fit the description of a burglar.
Clowney was questioned and released.
To demonstrate -- and downplay -- what happened to Clowney, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier was detained and handcuffed briefly by Police Chief Randy Scott while talking to the media after practice Friday afternoon.
Clowney was stopped at 2 a.m. Friday morning, but Scott stressed that the 18-year-old South Pointe High senior did nothing wrong. The chief did say Clowney was wrongly allowed into a bar in the Five Points district near campus; Scott said he was told the person who let Clowney inside had been fired.
"A lot of people would probably get upset getting handcuffed, but the police have a tough job to do," Spurrier said. "They don't know who has a gun who's going to shoot them or not. So a lot of times they will handcuff a person, ask him a few questions and that's the end of it."
Clowney spoke to WIS-TV in Columbia about the incident.
"They put the cuffs on us, searched us and said 'we must have the wrong guys,' " he said.
Police did arrest several people for disorderly conduct as a crowd gathered while Clowney, a 6-foot-6 defensive end considered the country's top college prospect, was detained.
"Jadeveon was not arrested. It was a mistaken identity and he was let go very soon after they asked him a few questions," Spurrier said.
Scott said his officers acted appropriately. Authorities received a complaint of an attempted armed robbery "involving a group of black males with long dreadlocks," according to the incident report.
Clowney, an African-American, often keeps his hair in dreadlocks and with his height easily stands out in most crowds.
"When we get a call about a robbery or a description, we have to act upon it, we can't just ignore it," Scott said.
Spurrier said he spoke with Clowney on Friday to get details of the incident. South Pointe, about 70 miles from Columbia, was closed Friday as teachers had a furlough day. But the coach said Clowney shouldn't have been around town at 2 a.m. with future Gamecocks teammate Gerald Dixon Jr.
Spurrier said he asked Clowney if he was creating a disturbance. "He said, 'Coach, I don't even drink,' " Spurrier recounted.
"Now, I wish he hadn't have gone and I hope he's going to learn not to go down there real soon," Spurrier said.
"We all can learn that a person can get handcuffed and police are just doing their job and it's no big deal," Spurrier said. "Now, if they take you downtown and take you two or three days, then we've got some issues."
Spurrier and the police chief acted out a scripted skit to downplay the incident.
Spurrier was discussing injuries and Saturday's stadium scrimmage when he was questioned about Clowney. That's when Scott stepped in.
"Coach, can I see you for a second please?" the police chief asked.
"You sure?" Spurrier replied as he was led several feet away, frisked and handcuffed the police chief. Seconds later, he was released.
There was a robbery at a convenience store, Spurrier quipped.
"One of the witnesses said it looked like the head ball coach of South Carolina, so I had to tell him that I didn't leave practice all day today," he said. "So [Scott] said it was OK."
While there was plenty of laughter at practice, the incident was serious: People were arrested, one person apparently has lost their job and a teenager was wrongly allowed into a night club.
Spurrier said he understands the excitement Clowney and other players feel when they're out among fans and students chanting their names, as was the case with the crowd in Five Points. But he says they need to make better decisions.
"Hopefully, over there in that stadium is the next time they're all going to be chanting 'Clowney, Clowney,' " Spurrier said. "That's the next time I hope to hear that."