If you were to meet Kansas State offensive tackle Jeromey Clary in person, two words would come to mind.
Perhaps gentlemanly would be more appropriate. In casual conversation, this intelligent, thoughtful and well-spoken young man in a 6-foot-6, 309-pound body doesn't project the fiery aggression and competitiveness that you would expect based on his performance on the football field. But as you talk to him, you can hear it in his words and you can see it in his eyes.
"There are two quotes that I live by. The first is, "Nobody works harder then me today, nobody." And the other one is "You only get out of life what you put into it." And I'm a firm believer of that, and I live every aspect of my life by those two quotes."
Clary bring those quotes to life, not just on the football field, but in the classroom as well. His resume of accomplishments speaks volumes about his commitment and work ethic.
Clary left Lincoln, Nebraska and headed to Kansas State in 2002, impressing his coaches so much that he played as a true freshman, seeing action in six games on the offensive line. He started fifteen games at right tackle during his sophomore year working on the same offensive line with current Colts offensive guard Ryan Lilja. That Kansas State line helped running back Darren Sproles become the nation's leading rusher, and posted the best record in the Big 12 for sacks allowed per game.
Clary went on to start 37 consecutive games, earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors, and was consistently recognized with Academic All-Big 12 honors. He got his degree in psychology in just three and a half years.
"I think my biggest strength is my work ethic," he said. "I'm an extremely hard worker. I have a lot of confidence in myself that I can out-work almost anybody -- if not everybody -- and I bring a lot of leadership quality to the table. I'm a guy that likes to be at the top."
You could easily confuse Clary's comments as a reflection of someone who simply wants to be the best for personal glory or for the money. But with Clary, it's all about what the game of football means to him at a very personal level.
"I'm a focused, emotional player who just loves to play the game," he explained. "I honestly love the game. I enjoy playing it. I enjoy the physicality of it. I enjoy being with the guys and the camaraderie you have with your teammates, and just giving it everything you've got on the field. It's part of me and I want it to be part of my life."
And although his calm, focused demeanor doesn't reflect it, there is a fire that churns inside of Jeromey Clary.
"I'm an extremely emotional player, but I don't let the emotion get the best of me," he said. "I stay focused on the task at hand and I play my game."
Clary spoke to plenty of teams at the NFL Combine, and undoubtedly improved his visibility on draft boards with every conversation and interview. Clary has the complete package to succeed in the NFL – the base skills, intelligence, determination, and durability. A likely Day Two pick in the NFL Draft, he's going to be a valuable addition to whichever team is smart enough to submit his name to the podium during draft weekend.
PART 2: Q & A with Jeromey Clary
Note: Clary interviewed with over a dozen position coaches at the NFL Combine, and spent time with the Patriots and Chiefs among others at the 2006 East West Shrine Game.