Corey Clement can’t wait for a blank slate in 2016.
A new season, he hopes, will wash away a frustrating 2015 campaign in Madison. Between the groin injury setbacks and the disorderly conduct citation coverup, the Wisconsin running back already expressed his desire to put 2015 in the past.
Mentally and physically, Clement is trying to turn the page. One of those ways is by switching his number. Clement, usually No. 6, made a spring switch to No. 24.
“Twenty-four is kind of a new start,” Clement said. “I’m not letting six go entirely. I’m just seeing how it goes throughout the spring.”
Why the switch? Clement said he saw it as more of a true running back number and that he just wanted to feel like he was part of the group.
He insisted that it wasn’t because of some Kobe Bryant obsession or to be like anyone else. Paul Chryst called him out on that.
“Coach Chryst and I are really changing my mindset and attitude towards how I go approach practice each day,” Clement said. “He kind of made a joke out of it. He was like ‘Can you really handle 24 because 24 is really the workload number.’ He referred me to Marshawn Lynch. He’s like, ‘Beast Mode retired so hopefully you’re not doing this out of coincidence because he did it.’
“I really like the number. I think it fits me well. If somebody disagrees, please tell me.”
Clement wouldn’t mind a bigger workload than the one he had in 2015. Because of sports hernia surgery, he was limited to four games of action, all of which he was noticeably hampered. Even in his three-touchdown game against Rutgers, Clement only had 11 carries and was hobbled on his longest run of the season.
After a scare on the Holiday Bowl, Clement said he’s made significant strides in getting back to 100 percent.
“I feel a lot better. Like I said throughout the season, time wasn’t on my side,” he said. “Now I’ve got another chance to come back and redeem myself.”
Clement said the NFL decision weighed on him in 2015. He set a lofty preseason expectation of following in Melvin Gordon’s footsteps with 2,000 rushing yards.
Admittedly, he got too caught up in all of it. He said that he doesn’t want to focus on his future. Being in the here and now is what he’ll try and do more of in 2016.
“It’s just maturing the mind and doing positive things whether that’s on or off the field,” Clement said. “I believe in becoming a better person before a player.”