Clermond Trying to Impress the Bears

Joe Clermond established himself as a dominant force in the Big East Conference and one of the Panthers best pass rush specialists. After less than spectacular pre-draft workouts, Clermond hasn't lost focus of his dream of being an NFL player.

Former University of Pittsburgh defensive end Joe Clermond hopes he can beat the system as a Chicago Bears free agent.

Clermond was a dominant force on the Panthers' defensive line for four seasons, becoming a freshman starter during Pitt's 2004 Fiesta Bowl season and recording 29.5 tackles for loss during his final two seasons.

He was twice named the Panthers' top defensive lineman, twice named Second Team All-Big East, and closed his collegiate career as the Big East Defensive Player of the Week with 8 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in Pitt's 13-9 victory against second-ranked West Virginia.

However, at 6-3, 249 pounds he is a bit undersized for an NFL defensive lineman. His 40-time has been listed as slow as 5.2 seconds.

Simply put, Clermond is the classic example of a player who did well on the field, but not so well at the NFL scouting combine.

"I'm told I'm undersized; too small, too slow," Clermond said. "I just accepted it and knew I have to take another route.

"Everything happens for a reason. I think God is trying to push me to be the player I can be."

Clermond received interest from only two teams during the NFL draft, Chicago and Washington, though it should be mentioned Chicago Tribune sportswriter Dan Pompei projected Clermond as a possible seventh-round draft choice for the Bears.

However, he did speak positively about his performance during the Bears' rookie mini-camp.

"I did pretty good," Clermond said.

"The way we work in the pros is a lot different. Things are faster. It's not the ‘beat you down' aspect of college. It was more getting technique and reps and understanding what we do on the field."

Clermond lined up at right defensive end during the first day of camp, then on the left side during the final two.

"Standing up or hand down, I can rush the passer," he said.

But one of the knocks scouting reports had of Clermond was he was one-dimensional; that he would only be effective as a pass rusher in the pros.

Naturally, the Tampa native doesn't agree.

"I don't see myself as a one dimensional player. I love contact and I'm after whoever has the ball."

He reports he is now in a training mode that includes eating less, but more often. It is an attempt for him to become stronger and faster, though perhaps surprisingly not bulkier.

And though he had a stellar career at Pitt, he lists his academic pursuits, from his first freshman orientation class at the Cathedral of Learning to his internship at WAMO, alongside his athletic feats as his most cherished collegiate memories. Clermond graduated with a communications degree last year.

He also hopes a career in the NFL will allow him to have greater access for speaking and mentoring opportunities with children.

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