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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Big Ten running backs Corey Clement, Paul James share Glassboro bond

A photo posted by Paul James (@pjaayyy) on

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_ Barto

PISCATAWAY — After arriving in a deep Wisconsin backfield, Corey Clement didn't mind the wait behind future pro James White and Heisman contender Melvin Gordon.

He had already built up that tolerance from playing side by side with Rutgers running back Paul James for two seasons at Glassboro High.

“I’m just a patient type of person," Clement said. "When my time comes it comes, just like being here at Wisconsin. I was behind Melvin and James, and now I’m just behind Melvin. I’m going to continue to keep working, and that’s what’s going to make me a better person in the long run.”

Clement and James, drawn close from rising through the youth football system in their hometown, formed one of the best backfields in South Jersey in 2010 en route to a sectional Group I title.

Now Clement is part of the nation's second-best rush offense (338.4 yards per game) at Wisconsin, while James — out for the season following ACL surgery — had drawn praise as one of the Big Ten's better backs.

Their two schools meet Saturday for Clement's first game in New Jersey, one both wish played out under different circumstances.

They still train together in the offseason at their old high school, drawn together by James's relationship with Clement's brother Stephen, Glassboro's quarterback, and their proximity.

“If there are no traffic lights, I would say about two minutes," Clement said of their hometown distance.

While Clement was the decorated recruit — "I think Corey is very talented," head coach Kyle Flood said — James walked on at Rutgers after a high-ankle injury early in his senior season cautioned interested programs.

James returned midseason and scored three touchdowns in Glassboro's title-clinching shutout victory.

In a year, Group-I Glassboro will have four players — Ronnie James, Paul's younger brother and Juwan Johnson, sibling of former Rutgers end George Johnson — in the Big Ten. 

It has also produced famed Rutgers walk-on Gary Brackett and two-time Heisman finalist Gordie Lockbaum.

“I’d just Glassboro breeds D-I athletes," Clement said. "We just have that mentality. We always want to play like we’re Group 4 or Group 3 because we believe we can compete with anybody else.”

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