BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Corey Clement has reached the big time, ready to perform on the grandest of football stages, but the Eagles rookie running back isn’t too big to reminisce about his high-school days in Glassboro.
Heck, he was enjoying himself, recalling some of his finest moments.
An undrafted free agent from Wisconsin who has become a valuable third-down back, Clement has never lost his passion or appreciation for his high school team and teammates at Glassboro High.
In one of the Super Bowl press gatherings, Clement and this reporter spent time rehashing some of his better days, including a dominant performance in Glassboro’s 41-13 win over Pennsville in the 2011 South Jersey Group 1 championship.
That was Clement’s junior year.
While his focus is clearly on trying to help the Eagles finish the deal in Super Bowl LII on Sunday against the big, bad New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Clement took great joy when asked about that South Jersey title game.
“What I first remembered is they had a punt return in the beginning and we were down 0-7 and everybody was panicking at first … ” he said.
Clement talked about how he settled everybody down, encouraging his teammates to believe this was their game.
“It was a big night for our offensive line, quarterback, the guys on the outside — and I was fortunate enough to have the biggest game of my life to seal a Group 1 title.”
Clement has gained more yards in other games, but considering what was at stake, this was his best game. He rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. For good measure he booted five extra points.
“What really got me is I had more fun on the defensive side playing defensive end, so that was a pretty good time playing.”
He has a vivid memory.
Clement had three sacks, plus a touchdown-saving tackle near the end of the first half. There are many who felt he could have been just as dominating at linebacker in college.
Clement is immensely proud of his high school days, where he holds the South Jersey record with 6,245 career rushing yards, according to historian Chuck Langerman.
He averaged a first down per carry, 10.1 yards.
“One of my things is, I had almost 500 yards rushing in one game and I remember that like it was yesterday against Gloucester City” said Clement who rushed for a South Jersey record 478 yards in that game his senior year. “Just all the moments I had not only statistic-wise but it is the last time you get to play with your close friends and that is four years built up. I got to play with my brother, his older class, and just really closing out strong and playing against some great opponents.”
If talking about his high school days gets Clement excited, imagine how he feels about Sunday’s game. This year Clement rushed for 321 yards (4.3 avg.) and had 10 receptions for 123 yards and two scores.
Not bad for an undrafted rookie free agent.
“Corey has been awesome, I would love to tell you that has surprised me what he has done, but it hasn’t surprised me at all,” said Eagles running back coach Duce Staley. “He is a special player.”
Clement seems so calm, ready to enter the frenzied atmosphere of the Super Bowl, anxious for the challenge.
“I knew we had it in us upon day one when I stepped on the field in training camp,” he said. “Leading up to our first game I think everybody had a purpose and purpose is what drove this team.”
Clement is one of 29 players in South Jersey history to be on a Super Bowl roster. He says the talent in South Jersey is underrated and highly impressive.
The talent in New England isn’t too bad either. The defending champs are the favorite, while the Eagles are the underdog for the third straight postseason game.
Still, Clement has a quiet confidence about him.
“We didn’t come here to lose,” he said.
Take note Patriots: that’s the same way he felt entering that Pennsville game.