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Thunder Basin running back Austin Clemetson picks up yardage during the Bolts' Class 4A quarterfinal game against Kelly Walsh on Oct. 27, 2017 in Casper.

A senior season of promise quickly turned into one Austin Clemetson would rather have back.

The former running back/linebacker/return man for the Gillette Camels made the switch to Thunder Basin for its inaugural season and suffered a knee injury in the Bolts’ first game. Upon his return he still delivered, leading the team in rushing, despite playing with a bum wheel.

Most schools backed off, seeing his production drop and his injury as a possible red flag. But Wyoming wasn’t those schools. And as a result, Clemetson signed his paperwork Wednesday to attend Wyoming as a preferred walk-on next season.

“(Wyoming) was always off and on and checking up on me,” Clemetson said. “It kind of stuck with me through my injury.”

He was approached by Division II schools and some Football Championship Subdivision programs during his prominent junior season, when Clemetson was a Star-Tribune Super 25 selection. Those schools invited him for game day visits and junior days. All stayed in the running until his knee injury in last year’s season opener.

That’s where Wyoming stood out and the Cowboys may have gotten a steal because of it.

Clemetson was the top rusher in Class 4A his junior season, averaging 167.9 yards a game (8.5 per carry) with 21 touchdowns. He tallied 29 all-purpose touchdowns that year, both were the most in Wyoming’s largest classification. Even as a knee injury sidelined him for the majority of Thunder Basin’s season Clemetson still led the team in touchdowns.

He mulled over his decision for months after football was over and only recently came to his decision. He appreciated that the Cowboys kept checking up on him. When he went down to Laramie on his most recent visit he liked how natural the fit was.

“When I went there and talked to a few of the coaches I felt like it was a place I wanted to be,” Clemetson said, “and felt like home.”

At first recruiting graduate assistant Ian McGrew contacted Clemetson. Then running backs coach and director of player personnel Gordie Haug took over to seal the deal. They still don’t know where Clemetson fits best in their current plans.

“I have no idea what I’m going to play,” Clemetson said. “We’ll see where I end up at.”

He will now finish indoor track season, focus on graduating, participating in the Shrine Bowl, then heading to Laramie for camp.

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyTrib


High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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