What’s in a name?
For Iverson Allen Clement, athletic prominence might have been destined from the moment his older brother convinced his mother to name her new baby boy after the NBA superstar.
Maybe Pierre Clement, then 12, knew his younger sibling was going to be something special in sports.
“It was his brother’s idea,” Marie Clement said of her oldest son naming her youngest.
On Wednesday, Clement cemented his standing as one of the most promising football players to emerge from South Jersey in recent years. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back recruit signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Florida on a football scholarship.
“It means the world to me,” Clement said after the signing ceremony early Wednesday morning in the school’s auditorium. “I want to be the next Tim Tebow.”
Stephanie Clement, 24, Iverson’s sister, said her brother Pierre was a “big AI fan” when the family lived in Brooklyn.
“He wanted to name him after AI,” Stephanie Clement said.
Iverson Clement, who moved to Mount Holly with his family in 2004, said he wasn’t that big of an Iverson fan while he was growing up, since the former 76ers star’s best seasons were when Clement was still a young boy.
“I always knew I was named after him, though,” Clement said.
Clement led Rancocas Valley to a 10-2 record and a berth in the South Jersey Group 5 title game last season. He gained 1,419 yards during the year, with 13 rushing touchdowns on 199 carries.
He also excelled on special teams, averaging 27.3 yards on punt returns with three touchdowns. His punt return for a touchdown in the final minutes of the sectional semifinals led Rancocas Valley to a 15-14 win over defending champion and undefeated Millville.
“He’s just grown so much as a football player, student and young man,” Rancocas Valley coach Dan Haussman said.
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Clement stuck with Florida despite a coaching change. The Gators fired Jim McElwain in late October and hired former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen in late November.
“It’s the place to be, SEC football,” Clement said. “I want to go on and beat Baylor, I want to beat Georgia. It’s the best school. There’s adversity now, but there’s adversity in life and you have to overcome it. Why run away from adversity? You have to face it, get over it and be a bigger man in life.”
Clement is the first South Jersey player to sign with Florida since Eastern lineman Phil Trautwein in 2004. Trautwein won two national championships with the Gators.
“Since I was a little kid, I was waiting on this moment and now it’s here,” Clement said. “I’m ready to do big things in life.”