With all the talk of dusting off the Air Raid sirens, it’s easy to assume that the Neal Brown-led UK offense next year will live and die by the pass. But if you’ve been listening to the soundbites coming out of Nutter lately, especially today, it’s pretty obvious that the coaching staff plans to rely heavily on the running game as well. And barring any further setbacks, Josh Clemons should figure prominently in that part of the game plan.
After missing almost a season and a half of playing time, including all of 2012, the redshirt sophomore Clemons is finally healthy and showing flashes of the stuff that made him such a promising player back in 2011. He’s not 100 percent yet, but the running back has been impressing the new staff all spring— a trend that continued today. I’ll defer to Gus Ramsey of UK Athletics for the details:
Jonathan George and especially Raymond Sanders – the two seniors at the position – have consistently impressed throughout the spring and they did so again on Saturday. But it was another player – one who didn’t dress once last season – who ripped off the biggest run of the scrimmage on a long touchdown that sounds vaguely similar to an 87-yard run he had back in 2011, at least based on the description of those who saw it.
“I thought Josh Clemons really stood out today,” Brown said. “He had a couple of nice runs. That was encouraging. He hit one big run up the side.”
The redshirt sophomore is still practicing only every other day as he tries to round back into form after missing a season and a half with a knee injury, but Clemons’ confidence is growing by the carry.
“I’m feeling great,” Clemons said. “I’m not really thinking about it anymore, just going out there and trying to get better and shake off those cobwebs from however long I was out.”
Brown wasn’t willing to say Clemons is back to 100 percent just yet, but it means something that he is beginning to feel like he is.
“That’s the hardest thing with knees, is mentally,” Brown said. “… And if he mentally is there, that’s a huge, huge breaking point really. There’s probably some things he can get better at, but I was big-time encouraged with him today.”
A healthy Josh Clemons would add a much-needed ground and pound element to a UK backfield flush with all-purpose backs, that’s for sure. And if today’s scrimmage is any indication, it looks like that might just be on the horizon. Given what Clemons has been through the last two years, that’s extremely good news.