10-09-2008, 12:26 PM
Seems like an easy guy to root for.
10-09-2008, 12:27 PM
I really like what I see of this kid. Hes got a great motor and is active when in the game.
10-09-2008, 12:27 PM
wow, i somehow posted on a thread 3 hours before the thread even began. balla
10-09-2008, 12:29 PM
Me too..sweet. By the way balla?.... is that like balla con dios...
10-09-2008, 03:17 PM
Long, winding road to Denver
It's quite the unlikely tale, this story of how Nic Clemons arrived in Denver and played his way into the Broncos' defensive line rotation.
How many other NFL players dropped out of high school before ever playing a down of organized football?
Clemons did, bailing out of school in Griffin, Ga., in the 11th grade after the birth of his daughter, NyKeria, choosing to "run the streets," he said, rather than play sports.
How many other NFL players had to earn a GED just to get into a military prep academy — and didn't even know which position he should play when he got there?
Clemons did, arriving at Georgia Military College thinking maybe he would try to be a tight end. Coaches there moved him to defensive end, and as a sophomore he recorded 7 1/2 sacks and recovered three fumbles.
How many other NFL players never even started a game at a university?
Clemons played in only seven games in his two seasons at Georgia, and in just two his senior year because of a hip injury.
How many players who made 53-man rosters this season spent the last two autumns out of football entirely?
Clemons did, after being cut by the Redskins in 2006 and the Falcons in 2007. Less than a year ago, Clemons contemplated getting a job stocking shelves at a Georgia Wal-Mart just to earn a paycheck.
It may sound hard to believe, yet there was Clemons last Sunday in his dark blue No. 93 jersey, rotating in and out of the defensive line in Denver's 16-13 victory against Tampa Bay.
"Coming out here and getting an opportunity to play, I have never been happier," Clemons said. "The road, it's been up and down, but I've been blessed."
Clemons, 28, spent two years on the Washington Redskins' practice squad in 2003 and 2004 and made his NFL debut in 2005 when he played in eight games for the Redskins. Just that experience was the fulfillment of a dream, Clemons said, because he was able to play alongside his younger brother, Chris, who also was a Redskin at the time. Chris is now playing defensive end for the Eagles.
Nic Clemons was cut after training camp in 2006 and spent the rest of the season waiting for another NFL tryout. That came from the Falcons late that year, and he spent the 2007 preseason in Atlanta only to be cut by September.
All that time, Clemons was trying to make it in the league as a defensive end. All that changed when the Broncos saw him late last year.
"As we watched him last year, when we were just looking for people, I kept saying, 'I like him, but I don't want him playing an end,' " Denver defensive line coach Bill Johnson said. "He's a three-technique."
And so Clemons became a Bronco. He also became a defensive tackle.
Clemons spent the offseason learning the new position, adjusting to a three-point stance and the feeling of having to get his body low to take on charging offensive linemen.
"By me coming in as a free agent, you've got to walk a straight line," Clemons said. "So it's just doing everything they ask me to do on the field, off the field. They really gave me a chance. I think they've noticed the road I've been traveling on."
The position change has made all the difference. At 6-feet-6, 300 pounds, Clemons provides power and bulk inside, and the speed and length to be an effective rusher.
He was inactive in the team's second and third games but has recorded six tackles in his three appearances, already equaling his previous career total. Against Tampa Bay last week, he spun through the Buccaneers' offensive line to sack quarterback Jeff Garcia. It would have been the first sack of his career if a defensive holding penalty from the other side of the field had not negated it.
"I wouldn't say he's very raw, but whatever color raw is, it's turning toward some experience," Johnson said. "He's got a grasp of it now that every snap he takes, he's getting better."
Sometimes it is still hard for Mattie Clemons to believe as she watches Nic and Chris, her only children, both play football on Sundays.
"It's almost like a dream. I have to sit back and think about it," she said. "You've got two children in the NFL. Those are one-in-a-million chances."
After working multiple jobs and nights at places like cotton mills and a rubber plant while she was raising her boys, Mattie Clemons has quit working and is now in college, studying to be a teacher. Her sons are paying her tuition.
Nic Clemons said Wednesday he's grateful to be in position to pay back his mother. Mattie, though, said she was just happy to see her older son, the one who early in life struggled to find his way, thriving.
"He loves it so much in Denver. I have never seen him so happy," Mattie Clemons said. "He loves the coaches to death. They're understanding with him, even though they knew he was out two years, they gave him a chance to play. That's all he ever wanted."
Lindsay H. Jones: 303-954-1262 or email@example.com
A different path
Defensive tackle Nic Clemons's unconventional path to the NFL:
1998 After earning his GED, played on partial scholarship at Georgia Military College.
1999 Earned full scholarship and honorable mention All-America honors.
2001-2002 Played in seven games in two seasons at Georgia as a backup defensive end.
2003-2004 Signed with the Redskins as a college free agent and spent two years on the practice squad.
2005 Made NFL debut, playing in eight games for the Redskins.
2006 Released by Redskins on Sept. 2, spent fall rehabbing knee injury.
2007 Spent preseason with the Falcons but was among the team's final cuts. He signed a future contract with the Broncos on Dec. 31.
2008 Denver coaches converted him from end to tackle, and he made 53-man roster. He has played in three games and made six tackles.