MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Marianna sophomore running back, Amari Clemons is leading the state in scoring, a complete 180 from the year prior.
Towards the end of his freshman season, Clemons quit football after playing just a few snaps on varsity.
“Last year in the JV, there was no connection,” Marianna head coach Jack Glover said. “There was nothing. I never thought he’d stay. I never thought he’d buy in.”
Over the last year, everything changed for Clemons.
“If you knew that guy in December and you came out here and you hadn’t seen him since and you came out here now you would think this is not the same person,” Marianna linebackers coach Blake Barber said.
Clemons started on the right track after a heart-to-heart with coach Glover in January, but the most significant difference came over the summer when he gave his life to Jesus.
“I put God in my life, and literally everything changed,” Clemons said. “I became a better person overall. I’ve turned my life around.”
Now, Clemons is the first player at practice and the last to leave. He now has a new outlook on life and a newfound love for the sport of football.
“You see the runs on Friday night and you see the plays, but you don’t see the hours that he spends out here,” Barber said.
Clemons described his freshman self as sluggish and lazy. Fast forward to the present, he’s a sophomore phenom leading the entire state of Florida in touchdowns. He’s scored 18 in just four games.
“You use all the change and he comes out here and works every day,” Glover said. “You would never know that he’s leading the state in touchdowns right now. He doesn’t say a word.”
The once quiet JV player is not the undisputed leader of varsity, the team that’s off to its best start since 2016.