Clement Embraces Third-Back Role

With injuries and position switches zapping the running back depth, the Wisconsin coaching staff is looking at true freshman Corey Clement to emerge as the team's third tailback. According to him, he's more than ready.

MADISON - Through four seasons at Glassboro High School in southeast New Jersey, Corey Clement made football look extremely easy. After one workout at the University of Wisconsin, he began to question how crazy he was for what he had gotten himself into.

Clement – a former four-star running back - got thrown into the deep in right away when he arrived for a Friday workout; the day he says all the players want to avoid because of its physical toughness. "Sadly that's the first day I came in," said Clement at UW's annual media day, "and it kind of broke me down. It made me want to change my mind."

That first Friday saw Clement doing prowler pushes, a drill that he described as, "pushing a little minivan up a little hill." But just like in his high school career, things got easier as he progressed.

"They are useful," said Clement. "We needed that. It's going to give our legs more strength to actually push through these defenders."

Wisconsin is banking on the 5-11, 210-pound Clement being ready to compete for playing time when Wisconsin's preseason camp opens on Monday. Clement comes in with a big pedigree. He finished his career with 6,245 rushing yards, 34 rushing touchdowns and 90 total touchdowns. As a senior alone he rushed for 2,323 yards and 33 touchdowns, not to mention recording 47 tackles and eight sacks.

While the Badgers are content with senior James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon as their number one and number two tailback, respectfully, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is looking to find a third running back to compliment the duo.

And for that job, Andersen is looking straight at Clement and really nobody else.

"Corey has some big shoes to fill," said Andersen. "We'll try a couple young men at those spots as we move forward, but right now Corey is big in that situation. He has a purpose. He came here for a reason. We're never going to play a young man when he's not ready, but that's the man right now we're looking at to jump in there and say he's going to be that third guy.

"It's a lot of pressure, but that's why he came to Wisconsin."

It's a role Clement believes he certainly can handle, and a role he feels he can expand if he shows consistency with the coaching staff. In the Big Ten championship game last season against Nebraska, Clement watched the Badgers rotate multiple running backs and see all of them get touches in route to racking up 539 rushing yards.

"As I was sitting watching it, I was like, ‘Wow, I could be in that rotation,'" said Clement. "That's where I kind of made my decision to come here. I knew they use everybody. It's not just once premier back. Nobody is greedy in this offense."

Clement describes the third running back's role as a, "hard worker, an every-down back when he gets the chance and someone who has a lot of heart." In his opinion, that's him, and he plans to show it beginning next week.

"Confidence has to come within every running back," said Clement. "If you don't have confidence, you really shouldn't be playing. It's just like letting people step all over you. That's not what I am here for. I am not trying to think as a freshman. I am just trying to do my part and once I get the opportunity, I have to make the best of it."


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