Wisconsin running back Corey Clement knows his time will come.
MADISON - Corey Clement knows the deal. Melvin Gordon is the feature back for the University of Wisconsin this year.
“I’m just respecting my role,” Clement said Tuesday as the Badgers continued preparations for a trip to Rutgers. “I’m respecting his time. A lot of people work up to this time. I believe this is his time and moment just to actually be the feature back that he wants to be, because last year he had James (White) with him. So now this is his time to show that he can actually be in on third and fourth downs, and actually be the (feature) back that NFL scouts are looking for.”
Gordon has dominated the headlines in the Badgers backfield this year and rightfully so. The junior is averaging 166.9 yards per game and is on track to break College Football Hall of Famer, and former UW running back, Ron Dayne’s record (2,109) for yards in a season. His name is mentioned on everyone’s Heisman Trophy watch list, and he’ll battle Georgia’s Todd Gurley and others to be the first running back off the board in next April’s NFL Draft. Or at least that’s what Clement is hoping for.
“My role, as of right now, is second string,” Clement acknowledged. “I’m not mad at it. I know next year, (Gordon will) be gone, hopefully, hopefully he’ll be gone, so I can try to get my (time), but I’m not really too selfish as to how my carries are going to go for the remainder of this year.”
While most UW fans would disagree with Clement’s statement about Gordon hopefully being gone, and the fact the 5-foot-11, 217-pound, Clement made the comment while laughing, the New Jersey native came to Wisconsin, like most running backs, to be the main guy.
To this point, he’s averaging 13.1 carries and 80.9 yards per game but over his last two contests he’s gone for 254 yards on 30 carries for a per carry average of 8.5 yards. That’s after going for 62.4 yards and 5.0 yards per carry in the first five games of the season.
“He’s been a lot more patient,” running backs coach Thomas Hammock said. “I think he tried to press way too much. Tried to take every single carry he had and make it an 80-yard touchdown run, which is not going to happen that way. We’re playing against good competition. Those guys are on scholarship, too.
“I think he did a really nice job of trying to lock back in on the type of player that he is. (That being) a one cut, downhill runner and taking what the defense gives him.”
The lasting image of Taiwan Deal to this point in his Badgers career is of the running back puking in between drills during fall camp, and then two minutes later, flattening his guy in a 1-on-1 leverage drill. Since then, though, he’s had some setbacks.
The true freshman suffered a hand injury in early September that kept him out of practice for several weeks. By the time he got healthy, the coaching staff had decided to go with redshirt sophomore, and former defensive back, Dare Ogunbowale as their third running back behind Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. That led UW to say Deal would redshirt during his first season in Madison. While that may affect some guys negatively, running backs coach Thomas Brown has liked how Deal has responded.
“He’s been a quiet guy, as he always is, but he’s doing a much better job of showing up and working his butt off every single day,” the first-year coach said. “Learning what it takes to be successful at this level.
“Obviously he’s got some great examples in front of him watching Melvin and Corey. (Derek) Watt, (Austin) Ramesh and (Derek) Straus, all of those guys in my room, the way they go about their business and work but he’s definitely maturing,” Brown said. “He’s still got a ways to go, but I’m definitely pleased with the way he’s progressing.”
The NCAA released their newest Graduation Succes Rates (GSR) study for student-athletes on Tuesday and Wisconsin saw a slight decrease in their score.
The college athletics governing board said that 84-percent of athletes that enrolled for the 2007-2008 school year graduated within six years, which was up 2 percent over the last report. And the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) showed 65 percent of athletes got a degree in the same time frame.
The difference in the numbers is that the NCAA counts athletes that transfer schools while in good academic standing and end up graduating. The federal report does not.
At Wisconsin, the GSR for all of the teams was also at 84 percent, down from 85 percent for those that enrolled in 2006-2007 calendar. The federal numbers were also down a percentage point from 72.
On a sports specific basis, UW’s football team posted a GSR of 69 percent, which was the second highest number since 1998 but down 3 percent from the last report. And the federal number of 56 percent was down one point from the last document. The GSR was tied for last in the Big Ten, while the federal rate ranked ninth.
The basketball team’s GSR was at 40 percent, down 4 percent from 06-07 and last in the Big Ten. Their federal rate of 33 percent was good for ninth in the conference.