But some five months later, Clay has taken his first steps toward once again becoming a Tiger as he returned to campus Monday and is set to begin classes on Tuesday.
Clay will be re-evaluated after the first session of summer school and if all is well, he will continue on his road to recovery and attend the second session and be on his way toward attending fall camp.
"I think the biggest thing is there's no pressure on Antonio," said middle linebacker coach David Blackwell. "The most important thing for me is that he's OK."
Clay left campus after becoming severely depressed in the months following the death of his sister in a car accident.
He was hospitalized for a brief time this spring and under constant watch. Following his release from the hospital, Clay slowly weened off his antidepressant medication.
He is completely off the meds now and is set to join his teammates in summer workouts.
"I'm sure he'll jump in with everybody else," Blackwell said. "I think he's been working out on his own back at home. I think he looks great right now. But I don't want to put pressure on him."
The return of Clay instantly provides much needed depth at the linebacking position and automatically makes Clemson's linebackers some of the best in the ACC, assuming SAM linebacker Tremaine Billie does well academically this summer and is eligible to play in the fall.
"He can be a huge shot in the arm for our linebacking corps from a depth standpoint," Blackwell said. "There's no question that we're excited to have him back, but the most important thing is his health."
It's way too early to determine what changes, if any, will be made with the linebackers. There are still too many question marks. But at the moment, the situation looks the best it has in five months.
"We will re-evaluate as a staff and figure how it will sort out as we get closer to fall camp," Blackwell said. "But obviously, it deepens us up at that position."
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Antonio Clay Back at Clemson
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