Since he’s known Josh Clemons for about 10 years, Jordan Watson immediately paid more attention to the University of Kentucky football program when his Georgia high school team signed with the Wildcats in February.
“He made me more interested in the program. We are pretty good friends. We have played together since we were 8 years old,” said Watson, an offensive lineman. “We’ve always had great chemistry and he was very heavily recruited as I was. When he chose Kentucky, I was wondering what he liked about them.”
Kentucky coaches and fans didn’t have to wonder what to like about Clemons. They liked everything.
He was rated as one of the top running backs not only in Georgia, but in the south. He was the Class AAAA Player of the Year after rushing for 2,003 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season and finished his career with 3,799 yards and49 touchdowns.
His decision to sign with Kentucky surprised many and made Watson start a process that eventually led to him also making a verbal commitment to UK¿about six weeks before his high school senior season starts.
“I got offered a scholarship by Kentucky in April and started doing my research on Kentucky. I¿had nine offers, but Josh really talked up Kentucky to me,” Watson said. “It became clear Kentucky was the clear choice for me.”
One reason for that was Clemons.
“I can tell you from my experience with him for 10 years and the way I have seen him develop that he is most dominant player I¿have seen,” Watson said. “I have seen a lot of good players because there are a lot of good players in Georgia and almost every team we play has at least one Division I¿athlete.
“Josh has the ability when you are down 14-7 going into halftime and your team is not excited and things are not going your way to break a 60-yard run and score. He can control a game. He can put a team on his back and carry you. He’s not a vocal leader, but he leads by example and is a great guy to have around.”
Kentucky could maybe need him early. Last year’s top rusher, Derrick Locke, graduated. His top backup at times, Donald Russell, transferred. Raymond Sanders played well at times as a true freshman, but did have minor knee surgery this summer. There’s no other proven back at Kentucky, one reason either Clemons or Marcus Caffey, another highly-touted freshman running back out of Georgia, could play early.
Watson doesn’t think it will take long for Clemons to impress UK¿coaches when preseason practice opens.
“If he ends up starting, it would not surprise me,” Watson said. “He will flat run over you. He blows people up. He has about 4.45 speed (in the 40-yard dash). He is fast and has a good little juke, but his runs bruise you. He makes you think twice before you hit him again. He’s a lineman’s dream.”
And maybe just what Kentucky needs immediately.