MORGANTOWN — Martinsburg product Hudson Clement had quite the Saturday night.
Not only did the redshirt freshman receiver rack up 177 yards and three touchdowns in West Virginia’s 56-17 win over Duquesne, but Clement, a former walk-on, was awarded a scholarship after the game.
So what was better, the scholarship or the touchdowns?
“I’d say the scholarship,” Clement said after the game. “That’s something when I came here I knew I’d have to grind for. Every day you’re sort of playing with that in your mind. Three touchdowns is obviously a crazy accomplishment, especially in your first game, but that scholarship is the biggest thing for me.”
Clement was a late addition to the Mountaineers’ starting lineup prior to kickoff when WVU coaches noticed that senior Devin Carter wasn’t able to run full-speed during warmups.
“He got his opportunity and he was ready for it. He didn’t know he was starting that game until a little bit before,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott said. “Sometimes the best opportunity you have is the one you didn’t know about. He didn’t have any idea about it and had no time to think about it, no time to prepare and overthink it.”
Clement’s first catch Saturday, the first of his college career, was a 14-yard touchdown from quarterback Garrett Greene. His next reception was a 39-yard contested catch on the sideline. He capped off the night with touchdowns on back-to-back drives, the first a 70-yard catch and run and the second and 46-yard reception where he was wide open downfield.
“I have the utmost confidence in myself to perform at a high level, but no one really expects to go into their first college football game playing like that and scoring three touchdowns,” Clement admitted.
Head coach Neal Brown said he thought Clement would earn a scholarship at some point this season anyway, and decided that there would be no better time to award it than right after the game on Saturday.
“I think the scholarship was going to happen as this year went on anyway and so why delay it when he had that performance,” Brown revealed on Monday. “When you have production and you perform well, I think you need to be rewarded and so I just felt that it was the right time the other night.
“The kid made plays…You knew it wasn’t a talent issue. He needed reps and he needed some opportunities.”
It was the second time already this season Brown has given a scholarship to a former walk-on, placing linebacker Caden Biser on scholarship before the team’s season-opener at Penn State.
“It’s one of the best things,” Brown said. “I really like it when you can bring the family in, I think that makes it more special. We try to do that because those are really good moments and you like to share them. But we’ve had a couple where we’ve kind of done it spontaneously.”
Flash of White
Clement wasn’t the Mountaineers’ only breakout offensive player on Saturday as true freshman running back Jahiem White was also able to make a name for himself.
White led WVU with 115 rushing yards, all coming in the second half against the Dukes, and scored a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“We were very high on him because we know what he’s capable of,” said fellow running back Jaylen Anderson, who scored an eight-yard touchdown in the first half. “Once he gets these big games under his belt, he’ll be very dangerous to deal with.”
White has primarily been billed as a speed threat but also showed surprising power for a guy who is only listed at 5-7.
“He’s going to be a special player,” Scott said. “We’re excited about him, he’s obviously gifted with the ball in his hand, but he’s tough and physical as well. Surprisingly, he understands when to stick his foot in the ground and get some hard tough yards.”
Scott said early in fall camp, White did not play very disciplined and just tried to outrun defenders to the corner, something he was able to do in high school, instead of reading each play and making the correct cut.
“Early in fall camp, the plays he was having success with on Saturday he was struggling with in fall camp,” Scott said. “In the beginning, he was getting away with it and it was tough trying to coach him to do what’s right because he was turning the corner and hitting the big one. Fortunately for our defense, they caught on to him and stopped a couple. It was really good to see him in a game setting like that be disciplined, look at what he’s supposed to be looking at and capitalize on big opportunities when they came.”
Unsurprisingly, Brown said both Clement and White are earning themselves bigger roles in the offense moving forward.
Both Sides of the Brawl
Anderson, a redshirt sophomore, did not play in the Backyard Brawl last season but had his own experience with Pitt as the Panthers tried to recruit him out of high school. Anderson, from Perry, Oh., said Pitt recruited him hard, even bringing him in for a visit.
“They share their facilities with the Steelers and it was really nice,” Anderson said. “Growing up, I had always been a Steelers fan so it was pretty cool being there.”
So how did he end up a Mountaineer?
“Really the coaches did a good job of recruiting me and getting on board with what they had going on here,” Anderson said. “Coach Scott did a really good job recruiting me so he was a big part in that.”
Now that Anderson has worked his way into WVU’s running back rotation, he’s eager to play the Panthers this Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC).
“It’s what we live for, it’s why we play football,” he said. “It’s big game and a rivalry we all look forward to.”
The three receivers who were out against Duquesne, Carter, Traylon Ray and Ej Horton, are all expected to be back this week. Carter practiced Monday while Ray was limited. Horton has not played yet this season but Brown is hopeful he will be ready on Saturday.
Defensive lineman Asani Redwood is also nearing his season debut, being a full practice participant on Monday.
Punter Oliver Straw got hurt against the Dukes and did not return with an ankle injury. Brown said his status will depend on how he progresses this week. Backup Leighton Bechdel had a 26-yard punt in relief on Saturday.
Cornerback Montre Miller will continue to be out after missing Duquesne.
“We want to make sure that he gets healthy,” Brown said. “Hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll be able to make an announcement on that, but I don’t want to put any pressure on him.”