Antonio Clay's Sister Killed in Accident

CLEMSON – Around 8 o'clock, Tuesday night, Antonio Clay's life was turned upside down. He had just been informed that his older sister had died in a car wreck a few hours earlier.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, Yoshanda Sanders, 22, went off a road outside of Jeffersonville, Ga., and flipped her 1996 Mercury Sable into a tree around 5:20 p.m., while driving to her and Clay's mother's house.

Her two small daughters, one about 18 months and the other five months, were properly restrained in the backseat and were freed and taken to The Medical Center of Central Georgia.

It took nearly two hours to free Sanders' body from the car, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Clay's position coach, Ron West, said both girls were put in critical condition and that oldest was upgraded Wednesday morning and that he believed the youngest was about to be upgraded or had been upgraded Wednesday night.

West, who recruited Clay, is the one that had to inform Clay of the tragic accident.

"I got the call last night (from Clay's uncle) and then I had to go find him and tell him," West said. "It was a pretty tough situation for him."

Clay spent most of Tuesday night surrounded by coaches and religious personnel.

Informing a player of a death to a family member is the hardest thing a coach has to do, Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "Until I experienced it, I told people," he said. "Then when you have an experience like that, you have a greater appreciation of what they go through. Everything does really go on the back burner. I'm sure the game's the last thing on his mind, and it should be. That's one of the harder things about the job."

Added West, "You just basically treat him like a man. You tell him you love him and care about him and that you're sorry that this happened, but that this is life. … I don't think anybody's ever ready for that phone call. You just gotta home your faith gets you through something like that. He's got a tremendous amount of faith."

Clay left for home Wednesday morning and it's unclear whether he'll play this weekend against Florida Atlantic.

"He just needs to do what he feels like he needs to do," defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said. "If he goes down there and his family says he needs to go back and play, then that's what he'll do. And if he stays down there then that will be fine, too."

There's no timetable as to when Clay will inform the coaches of his decision. Bowden said there's no rush.

"I'm not going to interfere with that," he said. "We've prepared like he won't be here and we'll let the decision be theirs."

Should he not play, Maurice Nelson will get the start, with Jeremy Campbell relieving Nelson in spot duty. In a emergency situation, Sadat Chambers would be used.

"In high school, I lost a dear cousin to me," Nelson said. "I can just imagine what he's going through now. This isn't how I wanted to start."

Gaddis out
As first reported by CUTigers.com, Bowden confirmed Wednesday that redshirt junior cornerback C.J. Gaddis will be suspended for Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic due to academic violations.

Koenning said he's not sure who will replace Gaddis in the starting lineup.

"I'd like to put a guy in there that's been in games before and that would be Haydrian Lewis," he said. "But I don't know that Christian Chancellor hasn't had better practices."

When asked about the university's attendance policy where a student-athlete can only miss a total of three classes for an entire semester, Bowden bit his tongue.

He did say that he's had discussions about that matter with officials, but wouldn't expand further than that.

"It's for closed-door matters," Bowden said. "It's not for public consumption."

Quick hits
The punting job won't be settled until Thursday, Bowden said. … Koenning added that true freshman Crezdon Butler will play in nickel formations, as well as some at corner.

CUTigers.com Top Stories