PITTSBURGH, PA -- These spring combines are showcases for quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs. As such, Saturday's Scout.com Combine at the Pitt indoor facility stayed true to form. Three Pennsylvanians -- wide receivers Toney Clemons and Nick Sukay, and quarterback Pat Bostick -- and Ohio cornerback Jordan Mabin were GoBlueWolverine's Performers of the Combine. First up: wideout Toney Clemons.
GoBlueWolverine has to start out with New Kensington, Penn., (Valley High School) wide receiver Toney Clemons. If there was one guy in the whole combine who had "The Wow Factor" it was Toney. Virtually every pass he went out for was caught by him a touchdown -- such was the separation he got from the defensive backs, due to a combination of the respect the DB's gave him, his speed, acrobatic moves, his physicality, and the easy, assured confidence that exuded from him.
Something that Gene Hankerson (aka 23Gene) said about him on the GBW Premium Message Board, The Victor's Club, the other day came back to us as we were watching him:
"Clemons is a breath-taking talent."
His combine performance reminded us of that of Cameron Colvin a couple years back at the Stanford Nike Camp as far as the every-pass-a TD aspect.
He is 6-3+, 200 pounds, he is physical (not really 'big' yet, although he will be once he hits the weights, etc. ... it is all natural ability right now), he has excellent speed (his 4.53 second 40 was one of the day's fastest on the Oosterbaan-Fieldhouse-like slow field turf track) and he is acrobatic (his 4.4 sec. shuttle belied his agility ... we didn't watch him run the shuttle but there is an art to running it on field turf ... kids often have a little trouble slipping).
In the QB-WR-DB drills, defensive backs all gave him a 5-yard cushion, the most of any wideout there, which proved 'pick-your-poison' deadly. With his speed and moves, sometimes dazzling multiple-moves, by the time the ball got to him, whether on a deep route or a short one, whether on an out route or a slant over the middle, he was wide open and turning full-speed upfield ... and he caught the ball softly as if it were a smurf ball. If the pass was off target, it didn't matter ... he adjusted easily to the ball wherever it was thrown to make an effortless catch -- and then after the catch he just turned on the afterburners and jetted for the touchdown.
Simply put, he made the game of pass-catching look too easy.
As far as who he reminds us of. With his size and speed ... and the respect the DB's gave him by playing far off him -- every Michigan fan should have a name come to mind -- Braylon Edwards. It's a fairly good comparison, although at the same age Braylon was a little bigger/stronger, whereas Clemons has a little more acrobatic agility. Another comparison would be Vidol Hazleton who starred in last year's PSU Combine and in the Army All Star week ... however, Hazleton is more a 'poor man's Braylon' in that he is a little stiffer even than Braylon (again, at the same age, 17-18 years old).
When we speak of his 'aura' of easy, assured confidence, we don't mean to say that he was arrogant or a jerk. On the contrary, he seemed more the quiet 'good teammate' type whose behavior was unique in that he was always standing around the upcoming-play, even when it wasn't his turn, always 'into it' -- a guy who seemed to be immensely enjoying himself as his perpetual mini-smile evidenced.
So, the guy just had that "it factor" -- extreme athleticism, plus a star-quality. And it looked to be all natural ability because, as we said, it doesn't appear that he's hit the weight room much, if at all, at this point. As our 23Gene also said, he "... has athletic talent running all through his family. His mother was a track star in her day, and he has two sisters on track scholarships at a pair of BCS schools."
GoBlueWolverine spoke to Clemons a few different times during the day (all for fairly brief times: we don't like top bother kids too much at combines -- they are there to focus on their performance after all). He told us:
-- he has offers from, "UConn, Pitt, Ole Miss, and Akron."
-- as far as Michigan goes: "I've just heard from Coach Loeffler" (he pronounced it "Low-Fler" and asked, "It that how you pronounce it?"). "Coach Loeffler asked my coach for my cell number, and he has been text messaging me lately -- he just sent me a couple yesterday."
-- as far as whether he's been to Michigan: "Not yet, but I'm hoping to come for a spring practice."
-- as far as a Michigan connection: "Stevie B is my cousin, and he has talked to me about Michigan."
Oh yeah, and one more thing ... there WAS one defensive back who beat Clemons the one time they matched up head to head ... stay tuned.