Putting in work on and off the field shows dedication and commitment, which proved to be some of the reasons why one freshman set himself apart from the rest, according to Running Back Coach Ryan Stokes. Toriano Clinton, a freshman running back majoring in sports management, put in the time, his hard work paying off faster than he expected, he said.
Clinton’s work ethic and commitment to the game got him recognition from his coach and peers after he broke two records.
Clinton became the first player in conference history to win both the GLVC Offensive and Special Players of the Week honors in the same day. He is also the first player in school history since 1983 to return two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game. His 362 all-purpose yards came two short of matching the single-game program record, set by Craig Cothran in 1998, according to Assistant Director of Athletics for Media Relations Ryan Thorpe.
“I go hard, especially being a freshman coming in. I didn’t really expect to play as much, so every chance I get I just try to work constantly. Working even when I’m supposed to be resting. I just get that work in,” Clinton said. “Making sure I’m staying healthy and even if I am hurt, I try to fight through it because in life you’re going to have to fight through a lot of situations, and that determines you versus your opponent, or so I feel. So I just continue to fight.”
Stokes said that from day one, Clinton has been seen as a team player. Stokes said Clinton always comes to practice and to their meetings ready to learn. To be a good team member, one needs to know how to play the game, be versatile and work well with others, and this criteria can be found in Clinton, according to Stokes.
“When I think of Toriano [Clinton], I think of energy and just fun.”
Freshmen are only allowed to play a certain number of times in each game. In football these times are called reps, according to Stokes. Because of Clinton’s positive attitude, showing up to meetings early being the last one to leave, taking notes and asking questions, Stokes said Clinton got more reps. Clinton utilizes the opportunities he gets and brings excitement to each practice. Stokes said that because of this, his job is more enjoyable.
“Even at fall camp, the few reps that he had he took advantage of. Obviously his talent, his quickness and what he brings to the football team is a little bit different than the other running backs that we have, which is awesome,” Stokes said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been so successful as a running back group. Aside from our offensive line doing such a wonderful job, is just the differences in running styles that our running backs have.”
When word got out about the records that he broke, Clinton said he found a lot of support coming from his team, which he described as a family. His teammates congratulated him, as well as teased him which was all in good fun, according to Clinton, because of their closeness.
Clinton said his final goal is to get into the NFL, but he’s also focusing on succeeding in school. Stokes said he believes that if Clinton keeps putting in the work that he is now, he’s going to grow as a player for the team at the University of Indianapolis and continue to help in big ways. Clinton said he has earned the reps and is going to continue to refine his skills to get better.
“When I think of Toriano, I think of energy and just fun,” Stokes said. “He’s fun to coach and his work ethic is just different, and I guess that’s the best way to describe it. That’s why he’s gotten the opportunities he’s gotten. And when he’s gotten them, he’s taken full advantage of them because of his work ethic and how much fun he has out here just feeds on our whole team.”