There are some recruits that enjoy being showered with recruiting attention and then there are the prospects that don't get caught up in the hype. Clay Burton (6-foot-3.5, 225-pounds) is thankful for the opportunities that football has provided, but is happy to have his college decision behind him.
"Everything has slowed down," Burton said. "I feel like a regular kid, like I was before the recruiting process started. When someone asks me where I'm going to college, I can confidently say, "The University of Notre Dame.'
"I'll try to represent Notre Dame by my actions. It's definitely a good feeling. I'm not getting many calls, although I still get a lot of mail. Nobody really contacts me though and I think if they contacted my coach, he wouldn't even tell me, because he doesn't want to go down that road."
A recent 7-on-7 tournament took Burton to the University of South Florida, where he had a chance to speak with the Bulls new head coach and Notre Dame alum, Skip Holtz.
"I talked to the USF coaches for a little bit," Burton explained. "They were showing me a lot of love and they said that they appreciated that I was there, but everyone was respectful. They're all good guys, and they know where my heart is at.
"After the tournament was over, I went up to (Holtz) and shook hands. He said that he appreciated the way I carried myslef and that he really enjoyed watching me play. He joked with me and said, ‘I hate where you're going, but I can't hate it too bad, because I went there.' Knowing his dad coached there and that he went there, I just told him that we'll all be from the same network. He was really nice about everything."
Clay won't hit the Notre Dame campus for another year, and he understands that he has work to do between now and next June, but he's excited about his future at Notre Dame.
"I feel like it's all under my control," he said. "If I go there and show what I can do and work as hard as I can and make a good impression, I know it will all take care of itself. I just want to learn, get better every day, and just try to see the field. We had a good tape session last time I was up there, so I'm familiar with what I'm going to play. So I just need to get up there and do it.
"I'll be watching Darius Fleming (this season) to see what he does and see what I can incorporate into my game based on what he does. I'll definitely be watching him on defense, as well as Manti (Te'o). On offense, I'll be more of a fan, and standing up cheering when they score and when they win every game. I'm going try to learn the fight song, that way when I get up I'll be prepared. I can definitely do the tune, but I haven't learned the words yet. I need to look into that and get ready."
With his college plans set, Burton has bittersweet feelings as he prepares to start his final season at Venice.
"It's definitely going to be an emotional thing," Burton said of his senior season. "I've sacrificed three hard years for this program and I feel like this is the year that needs to work out and we need to make a deep run in the playoffs and be the best team that we can be. If not, I'd feel like it was a failure. I definitely don't want that sour taste in my mouth going off to college. I definitely don't want to be just another player that went through Venice High school. I want my team to be special.
"I've accomplished what I've needed to accomplish for myself. Everything from here on out is for me to be the best leader that I can be, help my team get to the next level and to bring a championship back to Venice High School…. That's my main goal.
"It's all about being the best teammate that I can be," he said. "Everybody on my team knows where I'm going to school and the respect that. I think that speaks to how hard I've worked to earn it, because I've definitely put in the time. I made up my mind in the spring to have my decision done in the summer, so I'm just ready to get the season started.
"I think we're legit. We have eight starters returning on defense. We have one of the best running backs in the state, one of the best wide receivers in the state, and a very tough, athletic offensive line, and a good prospect at quarterback on offense. If we get out there with the right mindset and get out there ready to compete from the first snap until the end of the game, we're going to be tough to handle."
Burton Ready to Get Going
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