Wisconsin running back Corey Clement doesn't understand why a junior season that was largely lost to injury has left him as something of an afterthought entering 2016 compared to the likes of LSU's Leonard Fournette and Florida State's Dalvin Cook.
He's finding motivation in what he considers a snub.
"I just think some NFL scouts or people who follow college football in general, they don't even mention me up with Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, all these other top premier backs," Clement said, according to ESPN. "It's kind of a smack in the face to not even be mentioned with these guys. I've been here before some of these guys who came in, like Fournette. But he's gained his respect."
The big difference between Fournette, Cook and Clement is that the former two have been dominant rushers for two years each at their respective schools. Clement is still looking for his first healthy season as a starter. He was highly effective in 2014 as the backup to Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon, rushing for 949 yards on just 147 carries. When Gordon left Wisconsin as an underclassman to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, Clement was expected to replace him in impressive fashion, but a sports hernia started his 2015 season on the wrong note, and he missed nine games.
He also missed a chance to play in the regular-season finale against Minnesota after lying to coach Paul Chryst about his role in an altercation that resulted in a citation for disorderly conduct. Clement is looking for redemption in 2016, and sees no better way to begin achieving it than to be matched on the same field with Fournette. Wisconsin opens the season Saturday at Lambeau Field against the Tigers.
"This is my season to make up and say, 'I haven't left yet. You made a big mistake trying to drop my name out of the running.' It's another motivation just to kick into another gear and just go off the first game," Clement said. "I've got to think about the first game -- the first game only. Me against Fournette. So, bring on the show."
Bring on the show, indeed.
But leave behind the talk of disrespect. Regardless of how his talent rates with the best backs in the college game, his production simply hasn't been there to match. Clement might indeed find himself in the conversation with Fournette, Cook and others by the end of the season. But there's a reason why he's not as of today.