At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Antonneous Clayton knows he wants to put on some weight before the next football season. The Class of 2016 hybrid defensive end/ linebacker will likely have to play a great deal on the line of scrimmage as a collegian, and he can’t wait for that.
What he doesn’t have to fix is his first step and his overall quickness coming off of the snap. That is what has college coaches enamored with the young man and that includes the Florida Gators. Clayton tripped to Florida a couple of weeks ago and saw plenty that he liked about the school and the program.
“It went pretty good,” he said of the trip. “A lot of stuff impressed me… the coaching, the facilities, and the environment.”
On the visit were his parents and quite frankly they were as impressed as anyone with what they took in.
“My parents were blown away,” Clayton said. “They really don’t go to places like that, universities and stuff. They couldn’t believe it. They loved the athletic facilities, the field, the town, and how it would be nice for me to be close to them.”
We haven’t seen the new Florida defense directed by coordinator Geoff Collins yet, but he will implore his own version of the hybrid defensive end/ linebacker pass rusher at Florida. The RUSH as they call it is where they see Clayton lining up and defensive line coach Chris Rumph knows exactly why Clayton fits the mold.
“They want me as a defensive end/ outside linebacker (RUSH),” Clayton said. “Coach Rumph likes my speed coming off the edge. They like my motor and my first step is pretty good. That is why all these colleges are recruiting me, because of that first step.
Collins recruits that area of Georgia and has built a good relationship with the young man.
“They talk about how I play on the field and how I can contribute to the team,” he said of the staff before specifics on Collins. “It feels like he’s another dad. He has an understanding about anything. I can talk to him about anything.”
Rumph seems to be targeting him as a play maker and letting him know how his skills really fit what he is looking for.
“Coach Rumph actually breaks down plays and defenses,” Clayton said of the time in the film room on is visit. “I sat down in his coaching room and went to the board and drew up some plays.”
Besides Florida, schools like Auburn, Ole Miss, and Tennessee are also coming on strong and recruiting Clayton hard. He likes the idea of being that hybrid guy, but he actually is open to playing anywhere on the field.
“I really don’t care where I play,” he said. “I’m an athlete, not just a football player. I just want to win, that’s my goal.”
“I’m quick, fast, and focused on fundamentals,” he says of what they tell him. “Fundamentals make a big difference… using that speed to get to the quarterback. That’s why they all recruit me. The quickness makes a difference in getting to the quarterback and not getting to the quarterback.”
He’s good friends with star defensive tackle Montravius Adams at Auburn, but Clayton isn’t swayed by anything just yet and is more concerned with making the right decision instead of an early one.
“I am trying to keep an open mind about everything,” Clayton said of choosing a school. “I don’t want to change my mind after some big change. The process itself is a blessing, I will just enjoy it.”
He does plan on visit the four schools above during the summer… Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss. He also says Clemson will likely get a visit in the summer. He knows the Gators will get an official visit.
In the end, he also knows what he is looking for in a program.
“I want to be some help to the team I go to and not just be on the sideline,” he said. “I want to be in the game and helping them win championships.”