By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Role models can inspire an athlete to reach new heights and his potential.
Growing up Jonathan Clements gravitated to football. He even played with a squeezable pigskin as early as 3 months old.
Then he grew up watching big brothers Michael Jr. and Nico shine at the game and other sports. Clements challenged himself to be better than his brothers. He had to live up to Nico achieving records in track and playing at Carson Newman. Meanwhile Michael was a standout on the defense of the 13-1 Millington Trojan Football team.
“The role both of my brothers played in my life, they stayed on me,” Jonathan recalled. “Then I made sure I went to every game and try to break down my playbooks. I studied the plays, studied offenses. They made sure I did everything I needed to do to go to where I’m going today.”
Today Clements is going to the College of DuPage, a top ranked JUCO program in Glen Ellyn, Ill. On March 29 in the Millington Central High School Library, Clements was joined by coaches, faculty, teammates and family including parents Michael Clements Sr. and Dalphane Scott.
“It’s a new beginning and he’s worked hard for this,” Michael Sr. said. “And I’m happy for him.”
“New challenges for him,” Scott said. “Hopefully he will keep up with is responsibilities and not take this for granted. I hope he let’s this change be a positive one for him leading to new endeavors in life.”
Clements overcame some obstacles while shining on the gridiron to reach his signing day. After playing around the house, it was time for Clements to suit for teams like the Grandview Raiders and Memphis Bears before becoming a Trojan.
Millington Head Coach Chris Michael gave Clements a chance to hit the varsity field as sophomore. As he grew into his 6’2 frame, Clements was used all over the field in the Millington defense.
“I’m glad for him,” Michaels said of the signing. “I’m glad he’s going to get an opportunity. He’s very capable on the field. He has had his challenges on the field in the classroom. But he fought through them and now he’s going to have an opportunity to get started here at this school. Hopefully that’s going to lead him to the next level. And after he finishes his two years there, he will go on and use the football to get his four-year degree.
“They’re getting somebody who is extremely versatile,” he continued. “He’s got a good IQ for the game which makes him extremely easy to coach on the defensive side of the ball. We had to play him inside at linebacker. We moved him out at strong safety. We played him high in the secondary for a free-safety look. We play him at end rushing the passer. That was the intrigue about him with every school.”
Now Clements is about 205 pounds and the DuPage Chaparrals will likely place him at strong safety. Clements said he is ready for any position on the defensive side.
The past two season for the Trojans Clements was one of the leading tacklers and sack makers. By his senior year the was the clear leader of the unit.
“It felt good that they could look to me on third and one,” Clements recalled. “They would say, ‘What is he going to do? What is his move?’ I felt that leadership. It helped make me into the person I am today. It inspired me.”
Clements was inspired by his teammate Patrick Macon to sign a college scholarship. At Macon’s signing ceremony last year, Clements declared he would make it to the next level.
Now Clements joins Macon, Alan Cross, Roland Genesy, Brandon Carmichael, Jamal Collier and LeKeron Garcia as Trojan Football players to reach the next level.
“I feels special to the one and only person in my family to sign to a college,” he noted. “It feels good to accomplish one of my goals in my life.
Now Clements wants to be like Nico and play at a four-year school. While Clements has dreams of the University of Arkansas dancing in his mind, his parents want this next step to keep him on the right path to a bright future.
“I want to see him mature and be a responsible person,” Michael Sr., said. “That’s the main thing I want to see him do. I want him to be able to take care of No. 1, himself. Don’t worry about what’s behind, worry about what’s going on there. He knows how to play football. The main thing is get a good education.”
“On the field be the best you can be,” Scott concluded. “He already knows football. The main thing is dealing with life’s challenges. And don’t let negativity pull you down. Learn from it and pull yourself up. He wants to be a sports trainer. And I pray he reaches his goal. And he will.”