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August 11, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers expect a lot out of Corey Clement, even though he's been on campus for less than a full semester.
The Badgers are surprisingly thin at running back behind James White and Melvin Gordon, and head coach Gary Andersen said at the start of fall camp that he was hopeful Clement could come in and play right away as the team's third running back.
"We'll try a couple young men in those spots as we go forward, but Corey is big in that situation," Andersen said at Wisconsin's local media day. "He has a purpose. He came here for a reason. We're never going to play a young man when he's not ready, but that's the guy right now. We're looking to jump in there and say, are you going to be that third guy? If he can, he can. If he can't, then, again, as always, you will adjust."
The Badgers have only practiced seven times this fall, but it certainly looks like Clement came to campus ready to be the player the Badgers needed. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back flashed an impressive skillset through his first week of camp. Clement is a powerful and decisive runner who isn't afraid of contact, and his size always seems to allow him to plunge farther ahead when he does go to the ground.
Other freshmen like Leon Jacobs and Rob Wheelwright had impressive first weeks at Wisconsin, but Clement largely stood apart from the pack. So much so that the Badgers rewarded him and five other newcomers with 'Motion W' decals for their helmets, replacing the black 'freshman stripe' Andersen and the coaches put on their helmets at the start of camp.
Clement said it was an accomplishment to remove the freshman stripe so soon, even though White caught him off guard when he broke the news to the freshman earlier in the week.
"I was like 'I've got to be the first to get this off.' Because it didn't really fit in, it looked like," Clement said. "It stood out in the wrong way, and I actually wanted to be part of the Badgers and actually get my decal and stripes within the first week.
"I didn't know it was going to happen that soon. I thought it was going to be closer to the season. I didn't mind if it stayed on, just as long as it actually made me work harder. Ever since I got [it] I haven't stopped my run flow at all. I'm just trying to stay [up] and do what I have to do."
Clement said he didn't want to look like a normal freshman when he got on to campus, and that attitude is reflected on the field.
"I try to look like I'm an upperclassman," Clement said. "I let my running talk, so if you come up to me I'm going to hit you. I'm not trying to act like I'm a freshman, where if you come up to me I'm going to let you hit me. I'm going to make impact first so I don't get hurt. That's what I have to do out here."
Running backs coach Thomas Hammock has taken notice as well. Hammock usually has a word for each of his players when they get done with a play, and Clement has heard a lot of it over the last week.
"He'll let you know as soon as possible," Clement said. "As soon as you get done with that play. He'll tell you if you did something wrong, even if you did it right he'll still point something out."
But considering how well Clement has played for a true freshman so far, it's not a stretch to think that Hammock has had more good things to say than bad.
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.