Pitt defensive end Clemmings seeks mean streak

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, March 30, 2012

Pitt defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield is on a hunting trip, and the prey is what's inside redshirt sophomore end T.J. Clemmings.

"I'm just trying to help him find that inner animal," Breckterfield said.

Clemmings, the No. 2 prospect in New Jersey according to Rivals.com when he left high school in 2010, has vaulted onto Pitt's first-team defense, forming half of a defensive end pair with Bryan Murphy, New Jersey's No. 3 player that year.

Pitt is counting on Clemmings' size and athleticism to counteract his friendly disposition and turn him into a impact player.

"He just has to realize he is a 6-foot-5, 285-pound dude," said Breckterfield, whose goal this spring is to bring out the nastiness of his players. "I just have to get him to realize that and realize his potential and how strong he is, and it will translate (on the field)."

Clemmings came to football later than most, deciding not to join the team at Paterson Catholic High School until his junior year.

"My mom didn't want me to play football," he said. "I always wanted to play when I was a little kid, but she said no. So I just played basketball. She didn't understand it, but she loves the game now."

Clemmings redshirted last season after playing eight games as a freshman.

"I realized I really wasn't ready to play," he said.

Clemmings said the key to getting nasty is knowing assignments and technique.

"I am out there thinking a little too much," he said. "Coach is always coaching us to come out of your hips (with the initial burst). I'll destroy anyone once I consistently do that."

Williams out for spring

Junior cornerback K'Waun Williams, who started all 13 games last season, had surgery on his left knee Wednesday to repair a lingering ligament injury and will miss the rest of the spring.

He is expected to return to practice this summer.

Problems on the line

The makeup of the offensive line remains constant — tackles Juantez Hollins and Matt Rotheram, guards Cory King and Ryan Schlieper and center Ryan Turnley — but progress is slow.

"It's nowhere close to where we want to be," coach Paul Chryst said. "At any of these practices, you can pick out clips and say we're starting to get it and then others where you can say, 'Boy, guys, this isn't very good.' That is kind of typical of this time of year."

Chryst said sixth-year senior guard Chris Jacobson is progressing well in his rehabilitation from knee surgery and could return to practice this summer.

"Certainly we will be a better team with him," Chryst said.

Sluggish and sloppy

Chryst said the offense was "really sluggish" Thursday during competition periods, the ninth day of spring and the first of red zone drills.

"If you learn from it, it's a good day," he said. "Today, it was really sloppy at times."

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