MADISON - Corey Clement was itching for contact. The University of Wisconsin sophomore had barely been touched, much less tackled, during the first couple weeks of spring practice. That was by design, as UW coach Gary Andersen had no interest in seeing Clement or his backfield mate, Melvin Gordon, get injured five months before they took the field against LSU. But Clement pleaded with Andersen, and the second-year coach relented during a scrimmage. All Clement did on the first series of the session was carry the ball five times for 99 yards and finished the drive off with a 68-yard touchdown.
“That’s probably the quickest way for me to get fired. Get here in the spring and hurt our top two tailbacks,” new running backs coach Thomas Brown said. “(Clement) definitely wanted to get some contact. We let him get a little bit, but we want to try and keep those guys fresh.”
Some of Clement’s pent-up aggression was likely leftover from his freshman season. He ran for 547 yards and seven touchdowns but carried the ball just 12 times in the last six games of the year. That will not happen this season.
With James White now taking handoffs from Tom Brady in New England, the new two-headed monster for UW will be Gordon and Clement. And even though Gordon has gotten the majority of the accolades, and came back to Madison for his junior season to be the workhorse back, the Wisconsin coaching staff has no intention of leaning heavily on one back or the other.
“I believe in running the two-back system,” Brown said.
Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said the same thing in the spring. He foresees a similar timeshare to the one that led Gordon and White to breaking the single-season record for rushing yards by a duo.
The taste of success has driven Clement. He and Gordon spent time before and after practices in the spring doing extra work in anticipation of being the key offensive players for UW this fall. They’ll almost certainly be on the field together at points during the season, and you can expect Clement to take full advantage.
“He’s a physical downhill runner,” Brown said. “I love his mentality. Great personality off the field, but on the field he’s tough to deal with. I dare you to step in front of him and try to stop him. “
Most Important Badgers
1) July 25
2) July 24
3) July 23
4) July 22
5) July 21
6) July 18
7) July 17
8) RB Corey Clement
About the 2014 Most Important Badgers:
This is not a list of the best players on this year’s squad. Instead, we asked a number of ESPN Wisconsin personalities to rank the 15 players that are most vital to the Badgers success in 2014. They were told their rankings should be based on what players hold the key to UW competing for a Big Ten title or more in Gary Andersen's second year as coach. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from that particular player.
The list does not include any incoming freshmen, because we have yet to see them on the field as college players.