Jaguars' Clemons thankful for second chances
Rookie wide receiver Toney Clemons didn't get much of a chance to prove himself in game situations for the Steelers.
He rarely was targeted in the preseason — he had one catch — and was designated to the practice squad, where he seemed pre-packaged with an expiration date.
But the NFL's wheel of opportunity gave the Valley High School graduate another spin.
Suddenly, the Jacksonville Jaguars could afford Clemons the chance he never got with his hometown team.
On Tuesday, Clemons signed with the Jaguars, who plucked him from the Steelers' practice squad and added him to their 53-man roster.
“I don't see it as a new start I see it as picking up where I left off from (Pittsburgh) and building on it,” Clemons said. “I get a chance to refine my game and start a playing career off right in the NFL.”
Clemons, a seventh-round draft pick by the Steelers, is third on the depth chart at wideout.
The Jaguars' top receivers are rookie Justin Blackmon and second-year player Cecil Shorts III. Blackmon (groin) and Shorts (hamstring) were held out of practice Thursday but will play this week.
Jacksonville (2-9) plays at Buffalo (4-7) on Sunday.
Clemons has been glued to his new playbook.
The 24-year-old, who spent two years at Michigan, took a year off, per NCAA transfer rules and played two years at Colorado. He made a decent living on the Steelers' practice squad. He treated his situation like a 9-to-5 job, reporting to the South Side facility each day to mimic opposing wideouts for the first-team defense.
It was a “plight” that Clemons graciously accepted — and won't forget.
“They taught me a lot about myself as a player and helped me develop and learn from some of the best athletes in the sport,” Clemons said. “I'm forever grateful for the time I spent in the organization, and I will never take the start they gave me for granted.
“The experience was one of a kind.”
Now, in an oddly similar situation to his college scenario, Clemons has caught on with another team that waited for him.
Colorado offered Clemons a scholarship when he was coming out of Valley in 2006. But Clemons chose Michigan, where he never seemed comfortable.
Displeased with the direction of the program and his usage, he left Ann Arbor and transferred to Colorado, where he caught 86 passes for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons. Most of his production came in his senior year.
Clemons believed Jacksonville had him on its draft board and considered the team a strong contender to take him. He had a private meeting with the Jaguars prior to the April draft.
The Steelers, instead, selected Clemons, creating a local-boy-makes-good story that fizzled some when Clemons didn't make the roster.
But Jacksonville, like Colorado, kept the offer on the table. And a legit chance to make an impact in a game is back.
“There's no better feeling than competing on a high level,” Clemons said. “As a competitor, that's what you dream of doing.”
Clemons saw playing time in the preseason but had only one catch for 14 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
Clemons, who will wear No. 17 like he did in college, has the rare distinction of being the only player to start a game in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Report: Manning set to return to Broncos, takes $4M pay cut
- Ruling favors Vikings’ Peterson, sets up reinstatement
- NFL notebook: Lions opt not to tag DT Suh
- Steelers notebook: Search for tight end could lead to Penn State’s James
- Combine notebook: New 49ers coach, W.Pa. native Tomsula growing more comfortable
- NFL notebook: Bills reportedly reach deal to trade for former Pitt star McCoy