On Nov. 2, 2012, Corey Clement celebrated his 18th birthday in the Glassboro High School gymnasium and announced he would play college football at Wisconsin.
Clement had already rushed for the most yards in South Jersey history - the record of 6,245 still stands - and he said that day that he chose the Badgers over Notre Dame because he wanted to be "that guy," not "just another guy."
It took Clement four years to emerge as a top running back, waiting until his senior season to have the type of season that sparkles on draft profiles.
Clement rushed for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns last season to cap a turbulent college career and solidify his standing as a prospect for the NFL draft this week in Philadelphia. His 314 carries were the most in the Big Ten and showed he can carry a heavy workload at 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds. He's not considered one of the top running backs in a class that Eagles executive Howie Roseman called "historic" at the position, but he's expected to be selected on Day 3 and join an NFL roster.
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"Coming from a smaller [high] school, Group 1, everyone always had negative things to say about the competition coming out of South Jersey," Clement said. "As far as having a chip on my shoulder, I've got guys ranked over me, and that's part of the game. Everyone wants to be at the top, and it's not easy."
Clement appeared on the verge of being Wisconsin's next great running back when he backed up future first-rounder Melvin Gordon during his first two years for the Badgers. He rushed for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns on 214 carries in those seasons, a 7-yard average that set him up for the spotlight as a junior.
But 2015 was marred by a sports hernia and ankle injury that limited him to four games and 221 yards and a suspension for a fight at his apartment complex that he initially lied about to his coaches.
"You either learn from it or you don't," Clement said. "I took the learning path."
Clement earned back the trust of the coaching staff, regained his starting spot last season, and was second-team all-Big Ten. When he discussed his time at Wisconsin, he didn't just focus on his senior year. He alluded to his junior year, too, because that helped build the person that a team would want to have.
"Showed them that I can bounce back after a negative year," Clement said. "A lot of people thought I would decline after that. Being mature allowed me to propel to a level no one expected."
The Eagles are among the teams that met with Clement, who does not need prompting to discuss the Eagles running backs from his childhood. He once wore No. 22 for Duce Staley, the former Eagles running back who now coaches the position. Clement also has a longstanding neighborhood friendship with Dom DiSandro, the Eagles' vice president of team security, who Clement said has played a "magnificent" role in his life.
No drafted player can control where he plays, and they would all be happy in any of the NFL's 30 markets. But Clement isn't shy about how much it would mean to play across the river from his Glassboro home, where he'll watch the draft and first showed so much promise as a high school standout.
"That would be more than enough to excite me," Clement said. "It's just so much I know here. I know where to go, where not to go. Everybody has that feeling about home that you're going to be able to play your best here, do well, and the people in your corner that would support you are a doorstep away."