Meet Kansas State's Thomas Clayton

He hasn't played since the 2002 Sugar Bowl when he was a Florida State Seminole, but he's healthy now and ready to show K-State fans what he can do when the Wildcats take the field Saturday for the annual spring game.

He hasn't played since the 2002 Sugar Bowl. He's been hurt. He's been in transit. And he's been waiting, waiting to play, waiting to be a Kansas State Wildcat.

That day will come for running back Thomas Clayton Saturday when the Wildcats take the field for the annual spring game at 1:10 p.m.

Clayton, a sophomore transfer from Florida State arrived in Manhattan last summer and it wasn't long till he was sidelined when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last fall.

Though he wasn't going to play last season anyway because NCAA transfer guidelines, it was just another setback Clayton wanted no part of. But one thing is certain, the 6-foot 220 pound Clayton has had time to learn the system and rehab. But it wasn't until about a month ago that Clayton said he started feeling 100 percent.

"I got hurt the first week of two-a days last season, and it came as a bit of a shock," he said. "At the same time, it was a situation that I had to deal with. I think I did pretty well, and I have awesome people around me, helping me and supporting me. The head trainer is an awesome guy, and he worked with me extensively and we got at it and got the work done.

"Personally, from the time I got here to now, my experience in regard to the play book has gone up," Clayton added. "It's gotten a whole lot better. It's been fairly gradual. When I first got here I wasn't able to do things as much, but now in spring ball I'm actually able to get out there and get it done. It's gradual, but at the same time I've been able to make big spurts at times because I'm actually able to get out there and run it."

Clayton was ranked No. 15 by the TheInsiders.com out of Mt. Vernon High School where he rushed for over 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior before his eventual signing with the Seminoles. He was also recruited by North Carolina, Penn State, and Notre Dame.

He played in four games as a true freshman, gaining 45 yards on 13 carries, including an eight-carry 24-yard effort against North Carolina.

But Clayton, who runs a 4.32 40-yard dash, said he transferred from FSU for many reasons and that he even considered going to Miami before deciding on K-State.

"Honestly, it was because of multiple reasons, but primarily, it was because I wasn't comfortable there," he said. "I didn't see my career going in the direction I wanted it to go nor my life. I felt that making a move would be the best thing for me to do. After transferring from Florida State, I went through the whole recruiting process again, whereas initially my idea was to transfer to Miami. But my dad didn't think that was going to help me out as far as what I wanted to do with my life. 

"So we evaluated schools, and K-State came into the picture," he added. "Once we looked at the whole scheme of what we wanted to do, we felt like K-State was the perfect fit.  Coach Snyder is by far the best coach."

But with his Wildcat debut three days away, Clayton seems to have already earned some early respect from his teammates.

"He's just a real hard worker. He comes out to practice everyday and no matter what drills we're doing, he goes at it 110 percent," junior fullback Victor Mann said. "He's a very hard worker at anything we do. Coming off of an injury, he's working very hard and we have confidence in Thomas. Every running back has his own style, and you can never really compare one person with someone else, because they're always going to have different qualities. But I like blocking for anyone who is going to run hard, and that's what all of the running backs here do. He hasn't missed a beat, and he runs hard whenever he gets the opportunity."

Clayton said having senior running back Darren Sproles back has helped a lot too on getting accustomed to the schemes.

"As far as running plays, I pretty much have that down, but as far as coverage and pass protection, he's there for me if I need any help," Clayton said. "I feel like I am ready to be a Big 12 running back right now. Plenty is missing, and I have a lot of work to do, but at the same time I'm just anxious, so that's why I say I'm' ready."

 


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