April 25, 2012

Regina native Clermont retires a Rider



REGINA — Jason Clermont has called it a career.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders slotback announced his retirement Tuesday after 10 CFL seasons. The move was hardly a surprise as the Riders had long stated that Clermont, a Regina native, didn’t figure in their 2012 plans.

What’s more, on the club’s website Clermont’s No. 82 jersey has been assigned to Justin Harper, an American in his first season with the CFL team.

Clermont spent the first seven seasons of his CFL career with the B.C. Lions before finishing up with the Riders, appearing in consecutive Grey Cup losses to the Montreal Alouettes with the Saskatchewan franchise (2009-’10).

“Growing up in Saskatchewan, it was a childhood dream to catch passes for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a Grey Cup game,” he said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Saskatchewan Roughrider organization, fans and especially all of my teammates and friends for helping that dream become a reality not once, but twice.

“I owe the province of Saskatchewan and the city of Regina a debt of gratitude for shaping me as an athlete, but most importantly as a young man.”

Clermont made sure to thank all the different clubs and organizations he was involved in throughout his career.

“The Regina Rams and junior football were both instrumental in providing a young player with an incredible opportunity to develop and move on to university studies and collegiate level football,” he said in the statement.

“From there, I was given an opportunity by the B.C. Lions to be a leader through two Grey Cup appearances, a championship, numerous individual awards and priceless friendships and memories.

“Thanks again Vancouver, the BC Lions and the CFL for letting me hang my name on the back of the No. 82 jersey.”

Clermont became a free agent Feb. 15. The married father of three children, including two under the age of three, is also a partner in a Regina-based real estate firm.

B.C. selected Clermont in the first round of the 2002 CFL draft – fourth overall – out of the University of Regina. The six-foot-two, 227-pound receiver made an immediate impact with the club, being named the league’s top rookie that season.

Two years later, Clermont earned the first of two outstanding Canadian awards. In 2006 he helped the Lions beat Montreal 25-14 in the Grey Cup before being again named the league’s top Canadian in 2007.

Clermont blossomed into a clutch receiver with the Lions, registering three 1,000-yard seasons. His breakout campaign was 2004 when he had 83 catches for a career-high 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns.

He captured the CFL’s top Canadian award that season and was also named the outstanding Canadian in the Lions’ 27-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup game at Ottawa’s Frank Clair Stadium.

But the Lions released Clermont after the 2008 campaign when he had 50 catches for 640 yards and three TDs. He joined the Riders as a free agent but his three seasons were spent primarily as a backup player as he had just 73 catches for 849 yards and a TD during his time with Saskatchewan.

Clermont finishes his CFL career with 501 career receptions for 6,756 yards and 38 touchdowns over 165 regular-season contests. He added 42 receptions for 570 yards and two TDs in 15 career playoff games.

He remains third on the Lions’ all-time receptions list behind only Geroy Simon and Jim Young and sixth in career receiving yards.