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
Clayton, a sophomore transfer from
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
He played in four games as a true
freshman, gaining 45 yards on 13 carries, including an eight-carry 24-yard
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
"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
"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."