Chris Clemons was 12 when he earned the nickname everybody back home in small-town Arcadia still uses. Deer.
Yes, Clemons is fast.
He ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last spring to grab the attention of pro scouts, but the Miami Dolphins' rookie safety proved his speed long before that.
"I used to outrun everybody in the whole neighborhood," Clemons says. "We always used to race. We competed all the time."
The fifth-round draft pick from Clemson didn't get his nickname, however, until the day he finally beat a boy named Robert Smith.
"He was real fast," Clemons says in a soft, humble voice.
A match race was arranged. Clemons isn't sure how far they ran, just that the track stretched from one mailbox to another at the end of the street.
"I beat him a couple of times," Clemons says, smiling at the memory. "He didn't want to race again."
A kid named Levi Rivers walked up to Clemons with the compliment that would immortalize the moment.
"You run like a deer," Rivers said.
With that "Deer" Clemons was off and running. He hasn't slowed down yet.
It's not just speed, though, that makes Clemons an intriguing member of a deep and talented secondary. He has instincts, too.
Two more interceptions of Chad Henne and nearly a third in Monday evening's practice brought another round of praise from Dolphins Coach Tony Sparano.
"I do think he's around the ball," Sparano says. "I think that's a neat quality to have, when the ball finds you. The ball finds Chris, particularly in scrimmage situations. He's starting to figure some things out."
Starting free safety Gibril Wilson has been impressed as well.
"He's a fifth-round guy like me, so I look after him a lot," Wilson says. "He's a good guy and he wants to learn. He wants to be good. He's a very physical, fast guy. His future is big."
Considering how much Clemons has outrun already, it would be foolish to bet against him now.
He met his absentee father just once before the man was sent to prison. His older brother spent nearly 10 years in prison for second-degree murder.
His mother, Lillie Gulledge, raised seven children, typically working two jobs to support her family. One was as a nurse at a mental hospital.
There she was attacked by a patient and left disabled by the injuries; she underwent two back surgeries but still walks with a cane.
"She means everything to me," Clemons says of his mother, who lives in Atlanta. "It was hard for her. She brought me up real good, taught me how to have good character and just be a good young man and stay out of trouble."