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Alan Trubow

Sam Clemons might have spent six months hanging out with Adam Sandler, but he's not the water boy.

Not anymore.

Clemons will start a game for the first time in his professional football career Saturday at The Mark of the Quad-Cities, when the Quad-City SteamWheelers play their home opener against Bossier-Shreveport.

It's a big step in Clemons' career, although the 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback needed to be reminded of that.

"Oh, yeah, I guess it is the first start of my career," said Clemons, who did start games in college at Western Illinois. "I totally didn't think about that."

Don't blame Clemons, it's hard to keep everything straight after spending time bumping shoulders with Hollywood's finest.

Clemons is Sandler's body double in some of the football scenes in the soon-to-be-released remake of "The Longest Yard."

Not only did he spend six months filming with the star, but the two also formed a friendship and went surfing — one of Clemons' favorite sports — in California.

"I surf. I'm from California. Not everybody does out there, but I do," Clemons said. "And part of my offseason job was hanging out with Adam Sandler and doing all kinds of events, including surfing. He's a longboarder and I like to short board. He likes to catch a good wave and cruise.

"Honestly, he's a really good person. A man of morals and ethics. He's very loyal to his friends. It wasn't weird hanging out with him. He loves sports. Football especially. You would think that Hollywood stars aren't that interested in sports, but he eats up everything football."

So does that mean Sandler could be taking in a game at The Mark this season.

"He and a couple of his buddies who I became friends with were going to come to a game when I was with the (Arena Football League's Dallas) Desperados," Clemons said. "I'm going to try and do my best to see if he can make a trip out here. He was very adamant about watching me play. He wanted to see the real deal."

If Sandler does come, Clemons is hoping he'll see a better performance than opening week, when he took over for an injured Matt Pike and went 12-of-17 for 93 yards and a touchdown in a 64-28 thumping by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

SteamWheelers coach Rick Frazier believes Clemons is going to impress fans this weekend.

"I expect to see great strides  this week," Frazier said.  "I know it's going to be better. You have to understand that he was thrown into the fire last week. He only got two practices under his belt before that game, andwhat makes it worse is we split the snaps with him and Pike, so he really got the equivalent of one practice. It had to be rough on him. That couldn't have been the way he wanted to start his career with the Quad-Cities."

Not with two fumbled snaps.

Not with an entire half without a touchdown.

Not with a blowout loss.

Not that Clemons is thinking about the performance.

"I think I forgot about that when we all had dinner that night," Clemons said. "That's when I knew we had a character team. We lost big to Wilkes-Barre and there was no bickering, no pointing fingers. That is a true testament to the team's character. We flew back early Monday morning, and Monday afternoon guys were already in the weight room."

So now he truly begins his professional career.

With a full week of practice behind him and his first start in front of him, he has a chance to prove that last week was just a fluke.

Is he nervous.

"No way," he said. "We've got such a great game plan, and yesterday we had such a great practice. I'm comfortable here. I've got no reason to be nervous. If anything, I'm excited to get out there and redeem our first game. Get the monkey off the back a little bit."

Alan Trubow can be contacted at (563) 383-2294 or atrubow@qctimes.com.

 

What:               Battle Wings at SteamWheelers

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Mark of the Quad-Cities

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