BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – University of Colorado senior wide receiver Toney Clemons expects to get plenty of attention at Ohio State on Saturday, and not just from the Buckeyes’ defensive backs.
The packed house at the Horseshoe will surely jeer him all afternoon, he said.
Clemons played two years at Michigan before moving to Colorado in 2009.
After sitting out a year under NCAA transfer rules, he caught 43 passes for Colorado as a junior. He got off to a slow and rocky start this season but bounced out of coach Jon Embree’s doghouse earlier this month and had a breakout game against Colorado State last week.
It included a 44-yard touchdown catch that gave the Buffs a two-touchdown lead over their rival and served notice that Paul Richardson wasn’t the only deep threat in Colorado’s offense.
Seconds after that 28-14 win, Clemons acknowledged he still harbors a hatred for the Buckeyes (2-1), who fell out of the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since 2004 following a 24-6 loss to Miami.
“It’s Ohio State man, you see those colors and it angers you as a maize and blue guy, Michigan guy or Michigan anybody,” Clemons said. “I honestly feel that way still. It won’t leave. It’s Ohio State, you’re brought up to not like those guys. It doesn’t matter where you are in the country that’s just how you’re going to feel about them.”
Bloodlines don’t matter in mud baths, either.
Clemons is a cousin of Buckeyes tailback Jordan Hall and also of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who quit the team last summer in the midst of a scandal that also brought down coach Jim Tressel.
As a sophomore, Clemons suited up for the Wolverines’ game at Ohio State but didn’t play in the 42-7 thumping by the Buckeyes.
“We took a beating by those guys. They were loaded. It was Pryor’s freshman year. They walked over us, it was close the first quarter then they took over,” Clemons said. “A lot of that goes with that stadium, it has a big influence on that team. Getting to go back to the Shoe is going to be fun. I’m used to that type of crowd noise playing at `The Big House’, playing at Penn State and Wisconsin and even at Nebraska. You can’t let that crowd rattle you because that’s what they do and they do a great job of it at Ohio State.”
Although he didn’t do anything in that 2008 game at Columbus, Clemons is quite sure the red-clad fans will remember he’s a Michigan man.
“Oh, yeah, they’ll remember me. They players will remember me. The fans will know if you were a Michigan guy, they pay attention to that kind of stuff,” Clemons said. “I expect to get heckled a lot and I’m ready for it.”
Clemons, the first college football player to play in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, figures he’s ready to make his mark this time.
Since transferring to Colorado, the native of Pittsburgh and blue chip recruit has been viewed as something of an underachiever. Clemons caught three touchdown passes last year and sat down for a heart-to-heart talk with Embree after failing to catch a pass in Colorado’s opener at Hawaii.
Now, he feels like he’s back on track, and just in time.
“I can’t wait to go back. It’s closer to home for me and it’s going to be like a homecoming for me, and I can’t wait to go and compete against those type of players again,” Clemons said. “Go back to the Big Ten and relive my old days.”
Two other Buffaloes — linebacker Doug Rippy and tailback Rodney Stewart — are from Ohio and are just as pumped up for Saturday.
“It means a lot, just for the simple fact that I wasn’t heavily recruited by Ohio State and now I’m here and I have the opportunity to play,” Rippy said.
He said he grew up rooting for Penn State and never dreamed of playing for the Buckeyes.
“Ohio State, they’re a good program and powerhouse in football, but at the same time, it was never a school I was really interested in,” Rippy said.
Stewart, on the other hand, was very interested in Ohio State — but the Buckeyes were never interested in him.
“When you’re young and the stadium is only 10 minutes away from your house, you’re always thinking about playing there, playing with them or against them,” Stewart said. “I’ll finally get a chance.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)