"Auburn offered me Tuesday," Clayton says. "I talked with Coach (Joe) Whitt the other day. It's Auburn for me. They are the biggest school that has offered so far and the school that I want to go to. I'm committed to Auburn in my mind."
A 6-3, 257 defensive end with 4.8 speed, Clayton has come on strong since transferring to Opelika from Auburn High. Showing good footwork and the ability to rush the passer, Clayton has skyrocketed up the recruiting charts for several teams, including Auburn. He says that when the offer came down from Whitt he couldn't believe it.
"I was pretty pumped," Clayton says. "I was a little shell-shocked in the beginning. I was pretty excited. I couldn't stop smiling after I got off the phone. I was in disbelief because I have wanted to play there since we moved here."
The son of Auburn assistant track and field coach Jerry Clayton, Zach and his family moved to Auburn seven years ago from Gainesville, Fla. where Jerry coached the field throws for the Florida Gators. Zach is the current state record holder in the discus in Alabama, but says he wants to concentrate on football in the future.
Clayton gets upfield in a hurry in a recent Opelika game.
A stalwart for a defense that is one of the tops in Class 6A in Alabama, Clayton has yet to play a second half this season as the Bulldogs have rolled over the opposition on the way to a number four ranking in the state. Through five games Clayton has nearly 20 tackles and five sacks. In his last game he had four tackles and one sack in a 67-6 victory over Robert E. Lee of Montgomery.
Opelika High head coach Spence McCracken says, "He is an outstanding young man off the field and on the field. He has just had an outstanding five first ball games."
He had an offer from UAB in football and also offers from North Carolina and TCU for track.
Clayton becomes Auburn's 12th public commitment, joining most recent commitment Kareem Crowell from Tallahassee, Fla. The others are wide receivers Alex Rose and Chris Slaughter, quarterbacks Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger, running back Benjamin Tate, athlete Mario Fannin, defensive back Zaccheus Etheridge, defensive linemen Bart Eddins and Greg Smith and linebacker Hendrick Leverette.