Clement, Badgers have chance to hit restart button in 2016
It’s such a massive time for recruiting season that it’s easy to forget about the guys that are on the field.
We get caught up in the four-star and five-star recruits that are going to be game-changers for programs. But Wisconsin got a game-changing addition that is more important than any recruit in its 2016 class.
Ok, it’s not as much an addition as it is the Badgers holding on to their top weapon for next season.
The news that Corey Clement will return to Madison for his senior season is the biggest postseason news to come out of the B1G West this season. Frankly, it’s not close.
Clement’s decision to hold off on the NFL draft and have the year he was supposed to have cannot be understated. As we saw this year, there wasn’t much separation from playing in the B1G Championship and playing in the Holiday Bowl. Could Clement have made the difference against Iowa and led the Badgers to a West crown? With the ever-rotating offensive line, that still might’ve been a tough task. We’ll never know. That’s in the past.
For Clement, that’s all that he can ask.
He’ll get to push restart on a chance to be the next great Wisconsin tailback. But 2015 had to serve as a lesson.
For starters, Clement had no business trying to push through a groin injury at the start of the season. I’m not trying to judge a player’s health, but groin injuries — even for the toughest dudes on the planet — aren’t something you can be effective with as a tailback.
Obviously he wanted to play. Obviously we look back now and say he shouldn’t.
This offseason has to and will be about Clement getting back to full strength. Getting back to the level he was at when he nearly ran for 1,000 yards behind Melvin Gordon requires him to be as close to 100 percent as possible. You don’t get through a B1G season with that kind of workload with nagging injuries.
Clement got a swift reminder of that when he exploded for three touchdowns against Rutgers in his first game back from sports hernia surgery, but he couldn’t even travel with the team the next week because of soreness.
If he’s coming back, he has to learn from his mistakes.
He also has to learn that he’s under a microscope. There’s nothing dumber than an athlete — on any level — injuring himself in an altercation. Hurting your body and hurting your reputation to settle a squabble never have been and never will be worth it.
But Clement has probably had that preached in his ear countless times since that early November incident.
Next year will be about Clement getting it right. He has a chance to right the wrong that was 2015. Wisconsin, with the graduation of a slew of key defenders, is going to need more high-powered efforts from the offense.
Paul Chryst wants this team to get back to its days of old. Smash-mouth, dominate the line of scrimmage, run-it-down-your-throat football can still be Wisconsin’s identity. With Clement and a young offensive line back, that can happen.
Clement and the Badgers steered off-course for the first time in recent memory. Next year, they’ll have a chance to get back on the path that leads to Indianapolis.