Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Payoff despite Performance at Combine, Pitt's Clemmings' Stock Is High

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Payoff despite Performance at Combine, Pitt's Clemmings' Stock Is High

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - T.J. Clemmings isn't the first Pitt player to switch from defense to the offensive line and have success.

It happened in the 1980s when Russ Grimm, a quarterback in high school who was recruited as a linebacker at Pitt, was told he was being switched to center by coach Jackie Sherrill.

But, unlike Clemmings, who welcomed the move when it was suggested to him by former coach Paul Chryst, Grimm was so upset he considered transferring to West Virginia. Eventually, the switch propelled Grimm to a star-studded NFL career as a guard with the Washington Redskins and eventually into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It's way too early to determine what path Clemmings will follow, but, two years after being moved from the defensive line, he comes to the NFL combine as one of the top - if not the top - offensive tackles in the draft.

"At the time, I wasn't having the success I wanted on defense and the offensive line was really my last option," Clemmings said. "I wanted to get back on the field, I wanted to play, I wanted to start again. Just being on the field again, wherever I was, that made it feel right, like, hey, this is what you got to do."

Look at him now.

Clemmings, a former high-school basketball forward in New Jersey who said he had scholarship offers to play basketball at Rutgers, Seton Hall and Providence, is being talked about by NFL scouts in much the same breath as his former teammate, Aaron Donald.

All Donald did was be the 13th overall pick in the draft last year by the St. Louis Rams and become the NFL's defensive rookie of the year.

Not only does Clemmings have a chance to be the first offensive lineman selected in the draft, he has such athleticism and length that he is being projected as a possible left tackle - the ultimate acclaim for an offensive lineman.

"As of right now, it's all talk," Clemmings said Friday after being measured at 6-feet-4, 309 pounds. …

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