Corey Clement enters the NFL Draft after a four-year career at Wisconsin in which he established himself in the long line of great Badgers running backs.
Clement rushed for 3,092 yards and 36 touchdowns in a Wisconsin uniform, placing him 11th in program history in the former category and ninth in the latter.
Now he’ll join other great Wisconsin backs like Ron Dayne, Montee Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon in making the jump to the NFL.
Who is Corey Clement? 5 things to know
1. Early in his college career, Clement backed up future NFL running backs James White and Melvin Gordon
Clement didn’t take on a starting role until late in his Wisconsin tenure, but that was through no fault of his own.
As a freshman, Clement was part of a three-headed backfield monster, along with future NFLers White and Gordon. Only in a totally loaded backfield could 547 yards and seven touchdowns rank third on the team.
The next year, Clement was Wisconsin’s No. 2 running back, backing up Gordon as he rushed for 2,587 yards, second most in Division I history. Clement still managed to pile up 949 yards and nine touchdowns.
2. After a tough junior year, he bounced back strong in 2016
Clement’s junior year did not go as planned. Thanks to a sports hernia that required surgery and an off-field fight that earned him a one-game suspension, the running back appeared in only four games in 2015, in which he rushed for 221 yards.
But Clement didn’t fold up. Instead, he returned for his senior and put up the best numbers of his career, rushing for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead Wisconsin to an 11-3 record. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches and second-team All-Big Ten by the media.
3. He was a workhorse as a senior
Clement entered is season year having never carried the load of a feature back for a full season. No one knew whether he’d be able to withstand a full diet of carries.
Well boy did he ever.
Clement carried 314 times in 2016, which led the Big Ten and ranked fourth in the nation. His 326 plays from scrimmage ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth in the country… even though he missed a game early in the year. As the season wore on, Clement never broke down. In fact, he seemed to get stronger, putting up better numbers in conference play than he did out of conference.
Speaking of which…
4. He saved his best performances for the biggest games
In arguably the two most important matchups of Wisconsin’s 2016 season, Clement brought his A-game.
The first big moment came Oct. 15 against Ohio State, when Clement matched a career high with 164 rushing yards and added an 18-yard reception for good measure. The Badgers lost 30-23, but Clement showed he can put up numbers against the best competition.
Weeks later, Wisconsin faced Penn State in the Big Ten Championship Game and Clement put the Badgers on his shoulders once more. The running back again tallied 164 yards on the ground, while scoring a touchdown and adding three receptions for 43 yards. Once again Wisconsin lost by a hair, but once again it wasn’t because of Clement.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) December 4, 2016
5. Despite the junior-year fight, Clement’s character is getting rave reviews from his coach
Anytime a player has a high-profile off-field incident like Clement had in 2015, NFL teams will have questions about his character.
But Clement’s coach, Paul Chryst, says there’s no need for worry. According to Fox Sports Wisconsin, here’s what Chryst wrote in a letter to NFL teams.
“Corey was great this year! He was terrific as a player, as a teammate, and as an individual. Corey cared more about this team than he did his future as an individual prospect in the NFL. He was unselfish, a diligent worker, and kept getting better and better as the year progressed. As a staff, we thought Corey was a big factor in the success we had as a team this year. I can highly recommend with confidence Corey Clement.”
That glowing review should help silence any questions about Clement’s character.