Perhaps learning a lesson from Michigan's Vincent Smith, Tennessee running back Rajion Neal appeared to have his helmet strapped on securely and a tight grip on the ball on Saturday. Such preparation didn't stop the Vols' back from being leveled by South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on a punishing hit that evoked the iconic demolition of Smith in the Outback Bowl last season.
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With the unranked Volunteers driving against the No. 11 Gamecocks in the first quarter on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, Clowney dropped Neal for a two-yard loss with the sort of explosive play that made him a star. The 6' 6" junior who is listed at 275 pounds flashed his speed in eluding a would-be blocker and then demonstrated his power in leveling Neal. Thanks in part to the lost yardage on this pay, SC held Tennessee to a field goal on the possession.
GIF: Clowney Does It Again
(GIF via @BuzzFeedSports)
Despite a strong showing from Clowney that included a career high-tying seven tackles, South Carolina would suffer an upset loss, 23-21.
For comparison, here is a look back at Clowney's helmet-removing, fumble-inducing hit on Smith: