March 27, 2012

Sophomore tailback rebounding from torn meniscus







While most of the University of Kentucky football team continues to shake off its' winter rust, sophomore running back Josh Clemons is just happy to be back on the field.

After securing the starting spot last fall and playing in the first six games of the season, Clemons tore his meniscus against South Carolina in October. He's been rehabbing ever since and can participate during spring practice but will sit out of contact drills.

"I'm still working my way in slowly, seeing how my knee reacts to the different drills on different days," Clemons said. "I'm feeling pretty good, though."

Running backs coach Steve Pardue applauded Clemons rehabbing efforts but is in no rush to get Clemons practicing at full speed in contact drills.

"He's working really hard, rehabbing real hard," Pardue said. "We're trying to be smart, I just listen to the trainer. There's no reason to bring him out to do too much today when we don't play for a long time."

Clemons led the team in rushing with 279 yards and had two touchdowns before being injured. He was also named Southeastern Conference Co-Freshman of the Week after his 126-yard performance on 14 carries against Central Michigan.

Since Clemons went down he knows that it will take time physically to get back to where he left off, but mentally he's as ready as he's ever been.

"It's been a lot of thinking, I wasn't able to do much on the field (last season)," Clemons said. "I was thinking about football, watching it and watching the team. I wish I could have been out there."

He's been observing his teammates for the past six months. He views the way they run plays and the choices they make in a certain situation. The sophomore visualizes himself having to make the same split-second decisions.

When he returns, his starting position won't be waiting for him. Much like last season Clemons will have to earn it.

UK's spring depth chart has senior CoShik Williams as the starter, with junior Raymond Sanders as his backup. Clemons is listed third, with junior Jonathan George fourth.

The Cats will also add two 2012 signees to the mix. Former Alabama commit Justin Taylor signed with the Cats after injuring his knee his senior season. Dyshawn Mobley, who broke a Tennessee single-season rushing record with 3,068 yards and 44 touchdowns last season, will also arrive for 2012.

"I'm going to try and bust my butt and do the best I can to get (the starting spot)," Clemons said. "But whatever happens I will be here for my team."

Pardue noted that all the top teams in the country are deep at running back. Having a plethora of solid running backs is a good problem to have.

"I believe you need six, I want six guys that know what to do and can go in and play," Pardue said. "I don't like coaching them up in a hurry. There's going to be some competition and whoever finishes is going to get the ball."

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