Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney’s mother, Josenna, worked at the Frito-Lay plant in Charlotte, N.C., for nearly 20 years. She had a good excuse to retire after Jadeveon became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. But now the Clowneys are back with Frito-Lay, promoting Tostitos’ Lucky Bags. The team-inspired packaging celebrates official traditions of NFL teams and players. We caught up with Jadeveon Clowney to talk about the upcoming season, the return of teammate J.J. Watt and the South Carolina/Clemson rivalry in the Texans’ locker room.
What’s your pregame routine?
I eat the same meal every time — hash browns, grits. And I listen to the same music, Future. Future gets me going all the time. I don’t know what it is about it, it just gets me going for the games. I keep my pictures of my family in my cleats, I’ve been doing it since college. Sometimes I write Bible verses on my tape.
What’s your favorite Future song?
March Madness. I still listen to the March Madness from awhile back. I like his new albums, the two new albums that came out, but that March Madness always gets me going every time.
Last year was a breakout season for you; what clicked?
What went click was I was healthy. I never really worry about playing the game of football. I always love to play the game of football. I just worry about getting back in. My teammates knew that, my coaches knew that. They knew when I got healthy I was going to make plays, so I came in last season healthy. I worked hard all season, all offseason, just to have a great season. Everything worked out for me. Looking forward to the season this year.
Who’s the best Houston sports duo — you and J.J. Watt or the Rockets’ James Harden and Chris Paul?
I’m gonna say me and J.J. Watt. I think we’re gonna be great, man. The sky’s the limit for us. Really, for our team, man, we got a great team, it ain’t just us.
What impact has J.J. Watt had on you or how you go about your work?
He works hard every day, he comes to play, prepared like a pro every day. And that kind of rubs off on me, the way he works on the field rubs off on me, so I prepare the same way, and as I get out there and play, every play is like a game rep. We prepare like pros, we play like pros, and that kind of rubbed off on me as a young player and I’m glad it did.
Offensively, Houston has been up and down. Deshaun Watson was a splash pick, how’s he looked so far?
He’s an athlete, man. He can make plays on the run, he can make plays in the pocket, he can throw the ball. He’s got everything you can ask for in a quarterback. It’s going to take some time because he’s a rookie, and everybody knows how it is for rookie quarterbacks. Right now, he’s got to lean on our strong defense.
Is there a South Carolina/Clemson divide or rivalry in the locker room? Because you guys have a bunch of guys from South Carolina and Clemson.
Yeah, man, but we all get along pretty well. It’s kind of funny that everybody keeps asking about that, but I think the vibe in our locker room is good. I hang out with D.J. Reader all the time, he’s a Clemson guy, he’s always at my house, you never thought we’d played against each other in the [South Carolina-Clemson] rivalry. Everybody says, “Ya’ll rivals, ya’ll hang together all the time.” Man, we’re teammates now.
Do you have any side bets when Clemson and South Carolina play?
Yeah, you got to wear a Clemson jersey when they lose. We’ve been wearing them jerseys lately, it’s been kind of bad. I got to talk to [South Carolina], I got to tell them, “You got to get a win.” I’m tired of putting that orange on. I hate that orange and purple.
Speaking of South Carolina, what’s your favorite Steve Spurrier memory?
Oh my God, I got a lot of them. That guy is a funny guy, one of the best coaches I ever had. He’s funny. But one day, this is hilarious, we had practice then, and it started lightning and thundering, but it came out of nowhere. Usually you have a warning. This one came out of nowhere, and [Spurrier’s] wife’s out here, and we’re just hanging out at practice then, and it starts thundering real hard and lightning. He hops on the golf cart and drives off and just left his wife, and his wife is like, “Steve! Steve!” He’s like, “Hurry up, Jerri! Hurry up, Jerri!” But he pulled off on her, she had to call him, and he had to turn all around and come get her.
What advice would you give young athletes coming up?
I’d tell them that just have fun, enjoy the process because it’s breathtaking, it’s great, it’s fun, everything about it is fun. I had a great time, I wouldn’t change nothing for the world. I just thank God every day it happened the way it happened.