As the NFL season comes to a close this Superbowl Sunday, The Jug will be looking back at how Wildcat alumni fared in the 2012 season. For our third installment, we visit 2006 graduate Jeromey Clary, a player unwanted during much of the draft but able to turn his opportunities into a serious payday once given the chance.
San Diego Chargers tackle Jeromey Clary was an upstanding Wildcat, landing on the All-Big 12 academic team three straight years from 2002-2005. He was also recognized as the team’s Scholar-Athlete of Year and received the Paul Coffman Award for outstanding leadership, attitude and improvement as senior. Coming out of Kansas State, Clary was drafted in the sixth round.
Clary had a difficult time establishing himself initially, and spent his 2006 rookie year on the Chargers’ practice squad after being initially waived. However, in week three of 2007 he received a start due to other injuries in the line. In December that year he officially moved into the starting lineup. 2008 saw a big payday for Clary, who earned an additional 406K thanks to the NFL’s performance-based pay system, which takes into account playing time in comparison to salary. This made him the biggest beneficiary of the policy. In 2009 he was awarded two game balls from coaches for his blocking prowess. However, he injured his ankle in the performance earning him the second game ball in November and was placed on injured reserve, lost for the year.
Clary came back stronger than ever in 2010 and won the team’s Ed Block Courage Award after playing every offensive snap – one of only five players with the organization to do so (although, if you know anything about San Diego, you’re aware most players have trouble staying healthy enough to even play every game in the season). His performance allowed him to leverage a four year, $20 million contract following the lockout in 2011.
Jeromey was only able to participate in 14 games in 2012 as a groin injury kept him out of the first part of December. Despite his tremendous start, Clary has struggled over the past two years and became the source of much criticism as fans felt he failed to justify his big contract with San Diego. However, the lack of a quality/healthy running backs in the backfield (Ryan Matthews was either out or playing hurt all year) caused two problems for Clary and the rest of the offensive line: it made the line look bad, because subpar runners are going to be less effective by nature; and opposing defenses were able to blitz more effectively knowing the running game didn’t pose a significant threat. Additionally, the Chargers will be implementing a zone blocking scheme in 2013 – a big step away from the current man blocking system the team currently runs. Assuming Clary can effectively pick the system up – remember, the man’s smart – it should be a fresh start for the former Wildcat. Aside from two games against Kansas City, The Jug wishes him all the best in the 2013 football season.