Friday, March 1, 2024

Talking Sports with Colorado Junior Wide Receiver Toney Clemons

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Toney Clemons, a junior wide receiver transfer at the University of Colorado, recently took time to do a Q&A session with The Capital Sports Report. His interview is about his sports career and views.

TCSR: Who is your biggest role model outside of sports?

TC: “My mother and father. I spend much of my time with them. They helped make me the person I am today. I appreciate them for that. I also respect them for that.”

Football Stock Photo (Photo by Pixabay)

TCSR: What is your favorite motto?

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TC: “Yes, I do. My motto to live by is ‘Talent is God-given. Be Humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.’ [A John Wooden quote]. Also, I have another one, and my second motto is that I don’t believe in luck, because luck is not needed when you are prepared and hard-working.”

TCSR: Do you have any superstitions before games?

TC: “Yes, I always have to make sure that my spikes are clean. They don’t have to be brand new, but they have to be clean. They have to be shiny. I do this because I feel if you look good, you play well. Also, a lot of people judge a person by the shoes on their feet.”

TCSR: How has sports impacted your life?

TC: “Sports has impacted my life because it has pretty much been my life. It has taught me a lot of life lessons and a lot about discipline. It has taught me a lot about looking out for others and being accountable for your actions. Without sports, I don’t think I would have any of these. Sports has also saved me from an environment because back home in Pennsylvania, a lot of people don’t get out of the area that I grew up in. I pretty much owe the life that I live now to sports.”

TCSR: What has been the best thing that competitive sports have taught you?

TC: “It has taught me to overcome adversity. You also have to never give up on yourself and be confident at all times. People are not always going to be confident in you. You have to depend on yourself for a lot of things. And when times are hard, you have to stay focused to overcome those tough times.”

TCSR: What keeps you motivated in sports?

TC: “Winning. I have the drive and will to win. Also, I want to become a better person. That keeps me motivated every day.”

TCSR: Have there been any failures that you have experienced, which has made you a better athlete today?

TC: “Yes, in the 9th grade, my freshman year of high school, I was ruled academically ineligible. I had to miss out on all the major track tournaments. That was the biggest failure that focused me, as an athlete – and was a wake-up call.”

TCSR: What is your favorite sports movie?

TC: “My favorite sports movie is The Sandlot.”

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TCSR: What was it like playing football, track & field, and basketball in high school?

TC: “Those three sports were very competitive. In western Pennsylvania, they love their football there. When you are a big player, all the big schools try to claim onto you. It’s the one sport in western Pennsylvania that unites the schools and the community. And to be a factor in that, there’s no way for me to put words into that. Basketball taught me a lot about my teammates because I wasn’t an automatic starter or an automatic star. There were a couple of seniors that were pretty good, so it taught me patience. It taught me to work on my game. It got me in shape for the track season. Track & Field was a sport that gave me my competitive edge – and you had to outdo yourself every time you stepped out on the track. We are a big track, football, and basketball school.”

TCSR: What was it like playing football for Troy Hill at Valley High School?

TC: “Coach Hill is a phenomenal coach. He’s a great person and father. He was a father figure to everybody on the team. He gave us an identity. He’s a New Jersey guy, so he was aggressive and energized every day. You want to play for a guy like that. He wanted the best for you. He was a great player in his time at Pitt [Pittsburgh]. He was very knowledgeable about the game and he taught me a lot about the game. I love Coach Hill for everything he’s done for my career. I owe a lot to him.”

TCSR: What was it like being one of five finalists for the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Pennsylvania in football?

TC: “That was an incredible honor. To be nominated as the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state, where there are a lot of great athletes, was a great honor again. There are not a lot of people who can say they were one of five finalists for the Gatorade Player of the Year award. I’m one of those and I’ll never take it for granted. It’s a confidence booster. I still appreciate it to this day.”

TCSR: What was it like competing in the East-West Football game in Orlando?

TC: “That was a great experience. I met a lot of great players and a lot of new friends down there. It was a great honor to be the first class to play in that game. I enjoyed it. I had a really good week down there. That opened a lot of guy’s eyes for me. It put me on the college map, so to speak. That game did a lot for me.”

TCSR: What was it like winning two Class AA State Championships in track & field?

TC: “They meant the world to me. They showed how far I had come. In western Pennsylvania, track is extremely hard to do. And when I won those championships, I wasn’t even the top seed in the long jump but was in the hurdles. To go and be an underdog – and upset another great athlete – it was a great thing.”

TCSR: Why did you choose to attend the University of Michigan?

TC: “I chose Michigan because it was a great situation. I loved coach [Lloyd] Carr and his staff. I loved the players that were there. The depth chart was perfect. With the way they recruited, I had a chance to come in there and play right away. It wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was the right decision for me and my career at that time.”

TCSR: What was it like playing in the 2008 Capital One Bowl, which was Carr’s last game as the Michigan head coach?

TC: “That game meant the world to coach Carr and his staff. It ended up being a big part of my career, too, as well. To play for coach Carr in his last game in his era of coaching was incredible. There’s no emotion to describe what it felt like to play against the most talented team in the country that year, in Florida. They had just won the National Championship the year before – and to be able to play them the way we did – and to be able to play in that game, it was great! We all love Coach Carr and what he’s done with the program. And we wanted to send him out like he came into the program with a win.”

TCSR: What was it like being teammates with Mike Hart [now Indianapolis Colts practice squad running back], Chad Henne [now Miami Dolphins quarterback], and Mario Manningham [now New York Giants wide receiver]?

TC: “Those were the biggest three players on the team. They were our Big Three at Michigan. Chad was a great and fearless leader. Chad was so mature that even as a freshman, he would know the play before the huddle was broken. He would also take the time to explain it to you if you didn’t understand the play. Mike was so competitive that he didn’t like losing. He didn’t accept that well. He expected the best out of you – whatever your best was – he expected it each day in practice and in the game. Mario, as a teammate, was also a leader in his own right. He wasn’t as vocal as Mike or Chad, but he didn’t like to get on guys, even though he was an impact guy. He would make sure you were focused at all times. He would also help you with your game if you needed help. Mario helped me out a lot. I still talk to those guys. I talk to Mike and Mario a little more than I do Chad.”

TCSR: What was it like playing for new Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez in his first year at Michigan in 2008?

TC: “Rich was 180 degrees from what I was used to with Lloyd Carr. System-wise, it was a total change. It was a learning experience. It taught me that one minute you can be on the top of the world, then the next minute, things can come crashing down for you and put you at the bottom. Everything can change overnight. He’s a good guy and I wish him the best.”

TCSR: Why do you think things didn’t work out between you and Rich Rodriguez?

TC: “I don’t think I was what Rich was looking for in his system. As an athlete, you have to step outside of yourself and see the situation for what it is. The position that I played in Rich’s system wasn’t a fit. He liked the smaller-type wide receivers, while I’m a big wide receiver who can go up and make the plays. He has a system that he wins with – and he can’t go against that – so he has to go with what he knows. I appreciate him for the opportunity that he gave me by allowing me to play. But I felt I wasn’t the right fit for his system, and he also agreed. It was a mutual understanding.”

TCSR: Why do you think the spread offense did not fit you?

TC: “That’s the persecution that a lot of people don’t understand. That offense is a spread-out offense, but it’s more run-orientated, as opposed to the spread offense that Texas Tech or Oklahoma State runs. They like to throw the ball nearly every down. I was running bubble screens – and was athletic and talented enough to do it – but I wasn’t being used to maximize my full potential, as a receiver.”

TCSR: Why did you transfer to Colorado?

TC: “Colorado was a place that I didn’t know much about. But I knew they played good football here. I also knew that the Big 12 conference is a very good football conference, which is something that you can’t pass up. Also, in the depth chart at my position, they were lacking receivers. Their depth chart was really thin at that position. They have quality guys, but they didn’t have a lot of numbers. I wanted to be able to come in here and help out. I like Coach Hawkins and I like what he has going on here. I want to be able to come in and make an impact.”

TCSR: What are your thoughts on playing for Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins?

TC: “My expectations are greatness for coach Hawk. I feel like he can make me become a great young man and a great football player. He’s done that with other football players throughout his career. I respect him. He comes out every day and coaches his heart out. That’s the type of guy he is. I expect to play my heart out for him and his staff every day, too.”

TCSR: What are your thoughts on the Colorado QB situation Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen?

TC: “They’re both great guys. I enjoy playing with them. They both have leadership qualities and that’s something you need to play this position. They’re both well-respected – they also have different aspects to their game. I enjoy catching passes from both of them. But we are going to have to wait and see who the starter will be.”

TCSR: What are your thoughts on this upcoming season?

TC: “We just have to win. I expect us to win. We’ve had trouble with winning in the past for different reasons, but now that we’ve fixed those problems, we are expecting to win every game. It’s not a matter of if we win, it’s a matter of when we win these games. We have a winning attitude around this program this year.”

TCSR: What are your thoughts on Colorado joining the new Pac 12 conference with Utah in the future?

TC: “I think it will be a great experience. I think it’s great for the University of Colorado with the players that they recruit and the alumni as well. A lot of the Colorado student bodies are from the California area. It has excited them and energized them for next year and also this year. Since this is our last year [in the Big 12], we want to go out with a bang! We want to do big things in the conference. I’m excited about it because it will potentially be my third BCS conference that I played in – Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 – in my four years. There’s probably no other athlete, who can say that they played in the Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12 in their career. But right now, the Pac 12 can wait, because I’m focused on making an impact in the Big 12.”

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Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the Journalism field since August 2002. Since that time, Mr. Caruso has covered many marquee events. This includes 13 Heisman Trophy ceremonies, 2 Little World Series events, and one Army-Navy College Football game.
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