MADISON, Wis. — Running back Corey Clement put together a strong closing stretch at Wisconsin to cap his college career last season. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from league coaches, rushed for 1,375 yards with 15 touchdowns and helped the Badgers win the Cotton Bowl.
Yet all of those achievements couldn’t prevent Clement from surprisingly going undrafted last spring in the NFL draft. Rather than sulk, however, Clement used the snub as fuel and earned a place on the 53-man roster for the Philadelphia Eagles when the season began. His performance only took flight from there.
Clement became a key contributor on special teams, rushed for 321 yards with 4 touchdowns and added 123 receiving yards with 2 more scores during the regular season. He caught 4 passes for 100 yards with 1 touchdown to help Philadelphia defeat New England 41-33 in the Super Bowl, capping a remarkable rookie campaign.
Land of 10 caught up with Clement, who was on campus Wednesday to watch Wisconsin’s pro day. Here is what he had to say:
Q: What is it like to think about where you are now compared to when you were preparing for pro day a year ago?
Clement: It feels like I was just here. Everything I’ve been through made it that much better. Not getting drafted, being overlooked, having a bad combine made for a better pro day here. When guys come back and really take in the true value of not taking anything for granted, I think it makes your season that much better.
The season I had this year, I just wanted to go out there, have fun and make sure I did it for myself and nobody else. I lost some pride at one point a little bit. Being undrafted, you want to get your name called. But it’s not like I can re-live it. But at the same time, everybody’s story is different. That’s how I view it.
Q: What was the moment you realized you could make the 53-roster and then excel at that level?
Clement: I knew it once the seventh round ended. I’m like, ‘This is complete bulls***.’ That’s what I would describe it as. I’m like, ‘I don’t know what the hell just happened.’ Everything flew around at one million miles an hour. When I look back at it, forget it. It happens. Just move on from it.
I knew coming into training camp, being on special teams, it was tiring. I didn’t play special teams here much. All I did was punt return, kickoff return here and there. Now, if I score a touchdown, I’ve got to run down on kickoff. It’s all a part of the fun, and I don’t want to be taken off teams at all, so I want to keep it moving.
Q: Do you think not being drafted made you work harder in some ways?
Clement: For sure. I wanted to lose so much weight. I’m like, ‘All right, the more I can run, the more weight I’ll lose. The more I’m not sitting around at practice chugging water. I won’t just have water weight sitting on me.’ So I think the competitive edge has allowed me to seek out different opportunities. Punt return, kickoff return. I thought it was pretty cool that I could play different units, so I enjoyed it.
Q: Was any part of you surprised at how well your rookie season went? Did you ever step back and have a wow moment?
Clement: At one point, but I didn’t want to lose focus. The only part I said wow was when the game got done, the last game, the Super Bowl. Like, ‘Wow, this stuff really just happened.’ I didn’t want to lose myself. I think things get magnified more when you’re in the league, scoring a touchdown here and there, people get lost in all the stardom. I didn’t want to do that because I knew where I came from and I didn’t want to go back to it. I just tried to keep the foot on the gas.
Q: How much do you think coming to Wisconsin has helped you become who you are and get you to this point?
Clement: I think a big part. Not saying that no other university could prepare me as well. But just being here, everybody has a want-to factor. They want to do better. If they have a bad day, they’re not going to let it hinder the rest of their success. The next day is always what we preach here. Get better the next day or not at all.
[Strength] coach [Ross] Kolodziej, everybody else you work with here, this stuff doesn’t change because we know the mindset. We know what we’ve got to do. And I’m hyped as hell to see what they do next season because they’re returning a lot of people. I can see them being top four in the country again.
Q: What do you think when you see running back Jonathan Taylor?
Clement: All I can say is, ‘Sheesh.’ Look out for that guy for years to come. And he’s got that O-line up front. All veterans. Guys who have been around for like three or four years. JT’s going to feed off that line for years to come. I think JT’s going to have a bright future, surpass everybody’s numbers. If he stays healthy, watch out, Ron Dayne. That’s all I’m saying.