After Bret Bielema's abrupt departure from Wisconsin to Arkansas in 2012, star running back commit Corey Clement was a difficult person to get in contact with.
The four-star back was bombarded with calls from college coaches and the media alike, all wanting to know what his status was with the Badgers. When the dust settled in February, there was talk that Clement was only taking calls from one person outside his close circle, running backs coach Thomas Hammock.
"We were close," Clement said with a laugh as he was presented with the rumor. "He's someone I trusted at the time.
"Once coach Bielema left, Texas really jumped into the loop. I guess it wasn't really too bad for me, it was mainly just Texas that came on strong."
A 5-foot-11, 217-pound tailback from Glassboro, N.J., Clement had an excellent freshman season as UW's No. 3 back behind James White and Melvin Gordon. Unfortunately, it was also his only year working under Hammock's tutelage.
"Coach Hammock and I had a tight relationship," Clement told BadgerBlitz.com last Friday. "Even though he's with the Baltimore Ravens right now -- I hope to see him in the near future -- he's been a great mentor. He was probably the most straightforward recruiter I dealt with during the process. He told me exactly what I needed to do and never downgraded any other school, but he told me what Wisconsin was all about and I based my decision off of that."
Clement, a Rivals250 member in the 2013 class, pledged to the Badgers in October of 2012 after previously being committed to Pittsburgh. He accumulated offers from Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others, during his recruitment and heard a number of pitches from coaching staffs across the country.
"Before my final big decision, I really didn't know where I wanted to go," said Clement, who rushed for 547 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013. "There were a lot of great schools out there and a lot of great opportunities. Wisconsin introduced the best opportunity for me, both school-wise and football-wise. It's all about sitting down with your parents and finding out what's best for your family and their situation. I still have two parents and a brother who want to see me play and Wisconsin's wasn't too far away. I think it all worked out for the best.
"I'm not naive, and a lot of coaches would say you can come in and start right away. But I wanted to compete against the best competition I could find and I'll always believe Melvin is the best in college football. That was definitely good for me, to go up against the best in the country. I believe that it's going to make me a better person in the long run."
Clement has only been on campus for a little over a year, but does help recruit for the staff when called upon.
"Sometimes when I bump into them (recruits) I tell them what the town and school are all about," Clement said. "It's a great place to enjoy yourself, but when you're on the football field it's time to get down to work."
Admission into Wisconsin was never in question, but Clement admitted his academics dipped during his senior year in high school, something he would caution other recruits going through the process to be aware of.
"Have your priorities straight and keep your focus on grades," he said. "My grade point average kind of dipped my senior year because I got lackadaisical, but my guidance counselors helped me get back on track."
As for his career with the Badgers, things look bright for the sophomore standout.
"Extremely happy with my decision," Clement said. "This place has set for up for success and I think I will make the next big step this fall."
Wisconsin opens the 2014 season on Aug. 30 against LSU in Houston.
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