WILLIAMSTOWN -- He’s lining up just two to three yards closer to the line of scrimmage this year, but it’s a totally new world for Daivon Clement.
The Mount Greylock junior was a tailback with the junior varsity last year, but he has relocated to fullback in his first varsity season because Kurt Schultheis graduated.
"I think [Daivon’s] got probably the biggest shoes to fill on the team because the thing that made Kurt really special was really his ability to be a lead blocker," coach Shawn Flaherty said. "I think even on the pass plays, those sprint out plays that we have and on those bootleg plays, that he just did a great job and his ability to pick up blitzing linebackers was great. I think that’s really what we miss the most about Kurt is his blocking ability."
The blocking was what Flaherty stressed most to Clement over the summer. He listened and took an active approach to make himself better. He watched "a lot" of game film and focused on what made Schultheis so good. Flaherty wouldn’t call him a "work in progress" but said he’s improving each week.
"I worked at tailback previously and fullback was totally new. I didn’t know what to do for blocking or anything," Clement said. "Coach, he taught me a lot of what Kurt did, like how to block right, and how to keep my shoulders down when I’m running through the middle of the hole."
The move to tailback has forced
He’s finding the plays to the outside are the toughest and knows how important setting the correct block is.
"It’s kind of pressureable because when we go outside, that’s the hardest thing because I don’t know who to block half the time because guys are just running from different spots," he said, "So I just have to pick whoever I hit and Ethan [Ryan] just follows me."
For Ryan, the tailback, not having the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Schultheis leading the way has impacted him in two ways. It’s forced him to put more trust in Clement and made him more patient.
"... I definitely have to get behind [Clement] and just trust that he’s going to find the hole, make a block and then cut off that," Ryan said. "Whereas Kurt, when Kurt was running, I could see where the cut was going to be before [I got there]."
Whether it’s the extra study sessions over the summer or pure instincts, Clement is already making some of the same decisions Schultheis did consistently. Flaherty said he’s already seen Clement deviate from his assignments to make a more important block.
"If we tell him to be a lead blocker on an off-tackle play, but he sees some pressure coming in from over the center where it’s a blitz, there’s been times where he’s peeled off and he’s picked him up and he didn’t follow what he was supposed to do," Flaherty said. "But he saw that ‘Hey, if I don’t pick this guy up, it’s going to be worse.’ Kurt used to do that all the time and so for us, that’s extremely exciting."
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