by Mary Ramsaier
In Fall 2010, Whitewater High School made a deep run into the state playoffs, losing a heartbreaker at Ware County. On that team were some amazing Cats, including running back Josh Clemons. Clemons rushed for 2,003 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior year.
Clemons graduated in 2011, signing to play football at the University of Kentucky. The start to his career was perfect, but not everything comes easily.
In the second game of his first season, Clemons was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Week for his 126-yard, 14 carry effort against Central Michigan. Sadly, he would suffer a serious knee injury that cut short his freshman campaign and led to a redshirt for his sophomore year. When he returned for preseason camp in 2013, Clemons suffered another season-ending injury, hurting his Achilles tendon.
Even with adversity in his way, Clemons kept pushing. He graduated this past spring from UK with a degree in agricultural economics, and he earned a second chance at his football career at Jacksonville State University where he will pursue a Master’s in sports management.
With a fresh start comes a whole new team to mesh with and battle beside.
“There’s a lot of down to earth people on the team,” says Clemons. “I’ve made a good choice.”
As the Jacksonville State Gamecocks prepare for their season, Clemons is fighting for a starting position. He hasn’t cut any corners in trying to become the best player he can be.
“I’ve never dieted before,” claims Clemons. “I plan on staying healthy and being more durable and having more stamina on the field.” Injuries have slashed his playing time in the past, but they haven’t dampened his will to be great. Now, his desire to shine is greater than ever. He’ll have some extra rays of sunshine on him this season. This past January, Clemons’ number one fan, his mother, passed away.
“A lot of people count me out,” says Clemons. “When I was playing, a lot people were texting me and congratulating me, but through the hard times there weren’t that many people there. It’s motivation for me to prove them wrong.”
Clemons never forgets where he comes from. Throughout practices, he keeps Whitewater with him.
“Every time I stepped on the (practice) field, I never played like I was going against my teammates,” remembers Clemons. “I prepare for a bear no matter who I’m going against.”
His true love for the game drives him to keep getting better. With a successful season, he hopes to earn a shot at the NFL. He won’t have to look far for advice on making the transition. The best tips he’s received come from his Super Bowl-winning father, Charlie Clemons. Charlie was a linebacker at the University of Georgia who went undrafted in 1997, but battled his way into the league, earning a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams for the 1999 season.
“Control,” says Josh. “Control how hard you work. Your focus. Your drive.”
Clemons and the rest of the Gamecocks open the season September 5 at Chattanooga.