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"Most Wanted" RB - Thomas Clayton
By Chris Pool
Date: Jul 18, 2001
Thomas Clayton from Alexandria, Virginia had an up close and personal meeting with the now famous, T.C. Williams High School. Clayton rushed for 200 yards against the Titans last year.
Thomas Clayton, a 6-0 199 (4.3) pound running back from Alexandria, Va. (Mount Vernon) is among the elite "Top 100" prospects in the nation. Clayton has more than 20 scholarship offers and he's been named to several pre-season All-America teams.
"People tell me I'm like Peter Warrick and Barry Sanders." Thomas Clayton said. "I'd say my running style is that of a slasher with speed and power."
Clayton rushed for 1,848 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. These numbers were good enough to earn 1st team all state honors. Thomas will be a three-year starter for Mount Vernon.
"I've been offered by all my favorites except Notre Dame and they said an offer would be coming. My top choices right now are Notre Dame, Penn State, North Carolina, Michigan State and Northwestern.
I'm going to Penn State on an unofficial visit on July 20th. What I'm looking for in a school is early playing time, education is going to be a big factor and how I get along with everyone on my visits."
Clayton has a 315 pound bench, a 36 inch vertical and most importantly, he's a full academic qualifier.
Film Evaluation - RB Thomas Clayton
By Chris Pool
Date: Jul 28, 2001
Thomas Clayton from Alexandria, Virginia is being hyped as one of the best prospects regardless of position in the nation. After watching film of Clayton, its easy to see why he's some of the nations top programs have offered a scholarship.
I haven't seen film on California's Lorenzo Booker and I from what I hear, he's the best running back in the nation. One running back that belongs among the nation's best running backs is Thomas Clayton from Alexandria, VA (Mount Vernon)
After watching about an hour of highlights, I put Thomas Clayton in the difference maker category. Clayton is a big back (6-0 200) with home run speed (4.3).
Mount Vernon uses a Wing-T offense with some I formation. Clayton has a tremendous burst and he gets to the corner with ease. Thomas has a gift of being able to stop on a dime, change direction and still be at top speed.
Clayton is also physical and isn't afraid to lower the boom on would be tacklers. He doesn't go down on the first hit and his lower body strength usually gets him two or three extra yards per carry.
Two of Clayton's best attributes are his quickness and vision. On one play, Thomas made six defenders miss in the backfield and then gained 10 yards on the play.
In closing, Thomas Clayton is among the nations top running backs. He's a home run back with power, quickness and grace. Remember the name, you'll be hearing plenty from Clayton in the next five years and maybe more.
Thomas Clayton High on PSU
By Steve Curry
Date: Oct 3, 2001
This article, published as a premium article on 9/10, is being republished for the benefit of non-subscribers.
Thomas Clayton is a big, strong and amazingly fast RB who likes what he sees in PSU.
Thomas Clayton is the complete package. He's big, strong (315 bench) and very fast. Recently, Thomas was ranked 8th in the nation in the 55 meters (6.54 seconds). In May, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds (electronically timed) at a Northern Virginia Nike Combine, which was the fastest time at the combine.
"I expected to do better because my track coach, David Jackson, said he could get me down to a 4.0 flat by the time I'm a senior," said Thomas. "I actually slipped coming out when I ran the 4.3. I only ran it once because there were about 300 guys and after you run it once, you fall back to the end of the line. I was kind of upset because I slipped and I know I could have done better."
Clayton is a young man who likes to be precise. He gives his height and weight at 5'11 ", 199 pounds. The running back from Mount Vernon High in Alexandria, Virginia executes with precision on the football field as well. Last season, he ran for 1,848 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading his team to a record of 8-3.
Mount Vernon lost their first game of the year this past Friday night against a team that went to the state finals last year. Thomas described his performance as fair.
"They put 9 in the box,", he said. "I got about 150 yards, but I usually average about 200 yards. I'm strong, so I would've liked to run the ball up the middle a little more. In preseason, I was getting about 300 yards a game. I've gotten a lot stronger since last year."
His performance on the field has drawn a great deal of attention from colleges across the country.
He has offers from Notre Dame, Penn State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Nebraska, Pitt, Syracuse, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, UCLA, Marshall, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, South Carolina, Navy, Rutgers and Temple. That's 26.
"Notre Dame and Penn State are recruiting me the hardest," Thomas said. "Nebraska, Notre Dame and Penn State are probably my top 3. They're all about even at this point. I like Florida State and UCLA too."
"Hollywood" Sets Visits - Names Leader
By Chris Pool
Date: Oct 21, 2001
Thomas Clayton is among the nations finest prospects. The speedy running back had a game this year that most football players can only dream of.
RB Thomas "Hollywood" Clayton 6-0 199 4.3 Alexandria, VA (Mount Vernon)
One of the nations finest running backs has already officially visited Notre Dame. Clayton says he has three more visits set and he names a leader.
I'm going to Penn State on November 3rd, Syracuse November 24th and I'm going to North Carolina on December 14th." Clayton said.
Notre Dame is my leader. I liked my visit and I felt comfortable with the coaches and the players. Notre Dame offers a great education."
So far in 2001 (five games), Clayton has 1,000 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. In one game this year Clayton rushed six times and scored on five of those touches in the first half alone.
Clayton had touchdown runs of 30,60,42,32 and 60 in the first half against rival Stuart. Thomas took the second half kick-off back 80 yards for a touchdown and sat out the rest of the game as Mt. Vernon won 64-0.
"We kept running my favorite play in that game, 25 isolation. On that play, my offensive linemen take out their defensive lineman. That leaves me one on one with linebackers and safeties. No contest." Clayton said.
Thomas Clayton is one of the best running backs I've seen on film this year. He's extremely quick, strong and explosive. He's going to be a very productive back at the next level.
Prep Atlantic profiles Thomas on Oct 30, 2001. Comments from coach included.
RB/DB - Thomas Clayton (5-foot-11, 194 pounds, 4.32/40)
out of Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia is a "... muscular guy who can run between the tackles and gain that extra yard with his power," says Coach Jody Stone. "He is very fast and agile, and reminds me of Peter Warrick or Barry Sanders when he cuts and uses his vision," Stone adds. His junior year stats are 225 carries, 1649 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns, as a runningback. On the defensive side, 10 tackles, and one interception. His career stats are: offense - 419 carries, 2783 rushing yards, 32 touchdowns, defense - 15 tackles, three interceptions, and special teams - four kickoff returns for touchdowns. He has set five school records, four in football including: most carries in a game (41), most touchdowns in a game (4), best rushing average (15.3 yards per carry), most yards in a season (1649), and in one track: fastest time in the 55 meter dash (6.22 seconds). Thomas was also First Team All-District and All-Region at running back and kick return (sophomore and junior year), the local McDonalds All-Area Athlete of the Year, and was chosen by the "Spring Factory" magazine as one of the top five East Coast running backs. As mentioned before, Thomas also runs track, the 55 meter dash, the 4x200 meter, and the long jump. He was also eight in the nation for the 55 meter dash by www.DyeStat.com on December 30, 2000. He attended the Tennessee and UCLA football camps this summer. His current college interests are Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State and Syracuse. He official visits are as follows:
* Notre Dame - October 6th
* Penn State - November 3rd
* Syracuse - November 24th
* North Carolina - December 8th
* Florida State - December 1st or December 15th.
Tom did say he will probably make his decision in December sometime after he completes his visits.
FSU's runningback's coach (Billy Sexton) comments on his three incoming freshman backs (Leon Washington, Thomas Clayton, and Lorenzo Booker) on June 25.
"Booker, who is a shake-and-bake, make-you-miss, outrun you. A great receiver. Leon, kind of the same thing but in a Barry Sanders mold. And then you have Clayton, who to me kind of reminds me of Travis (Minor). Fast. Muscled up. Doesn't have the wiggle that a Leon or Booker has but has that ability to hit a crease and really accelerate and has some mass about him -- 200 pounds. That's a good bunch of tailbacks right there."
Bobby Bowden comments on Nov 17 about Clayton fumbling.
Thomas Clayton has had trouble with fumbling. How much does that trouble you?
That was the thing that concerned us the most going into that game, was would he hold onto the ball. He had fumbled some in practice. He fumbled some in the Virginia game, where he was fixing to score and fumbled. We were concerned about that. We worked on it and worked on it and worked on it. I gave him a long speech before the game about fumbling. Sometimes that don't work. That plants the seed up there. I told him the story of how Sammie Smith, the first year he came in here, fumbled the football, and we ended up redshirting that great back. I was hoping that'd get the message out there. A freshman -- you nearly expect him to fumble. It's a different intensity than there was in high school. Different pressure. He's got to work his way out of that. You cannot play a fumbler. You simply cannot play nobody that fumbles the ball, pro football or college football.
You did put him back in the game after his fumble, and he played pretty well, right?
That's the great learning experience that you get in football. I hope that he really learned something from that. It'd be good if he did.
Thomas Clayton says, time for a change [Premium Story]
By Steve Ryan
Date: Jan 15, 2003
Say a young man wants to transfer from NE Oklahoma A&M to a Division 1-A school. No big deal, right? In fact, they've succeeded and made it happen for themselves. And, even from a lower tier school of the highest division to one considered in the upper echelon, well, that's just another step up. But, what if that young person is transferring from one of the biggest football traditions of the last twenty years. That's just what Thomas Clayton is doing as he prepares for life after Florida State.
Sometimes it's hard making decisions like this. I can't know in actuality, but in concept, this is a life-changing move for Thomas in that where he goes will be yet another chapter in his life, this one for would could be a full four years. It's not easy leaving a program like Florida State and some would wonder just what in the heck he's thinking. It's not what you think or what some have speculated as to the reason for this change. "It had apparently gotten out that I was leaving because of depth and that had nothing to do with it." Clayton stated. "The reason I am leaving here is because of position change."
That position change Thomas eludes to is to fullback where he said they were asking him to put on anywhere up to 30 more pounds on his almost 6 foot frame that was already at a stout by cut 213 lbs. "There was no way I was doing that." Thomas said. "Not only that, I was probably the fastest of all the running backs there and they wanted me to play fullback and I was like, you got to be kidding me."
There's little question about FSU's depth at running back. Year in and year out, FSU seems to be laden with one solid tailback after another. With that being the case though, you can see the point of a running back that was rated just as high if not higher coming out of high school that most of those he called teammates at Florida State. It's a common sense move, some would say, but Thomas said that considering how young he still is, it was simply the best move he could make. "While I am young and still have the opportunity, I felt like it would be in my best interest to go ahead and make the move."
And don't believe that Thomas all of a sudden fell out of love with the program that is Florida State. It was simply a matter of him and the coaches not seeing eye to eye. Something that is hardly rare in athletics, plus as most know, the life of a Florida athlete isn't so bad for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the weather. It wasn't completely about what Thomas wanted though and of course, ultimately didn't fit his design. "I love the social life down here, but there's more to school than just the social aspect." Thomas said.
Just to give you a little background on Thomas, as you might already know, he came out of high school ranked everywhere as one of the best backs in the country. He rushed for over 2,000 yards his senior year at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia, leading his team to the AAA Division 5 title. As a Nole, Thomas played behind touted backs, Greg Jones and Nick Maddox in a sparse role, playing in only four games as a true freshman.
With his freshman season burnt, that will give Thomas a year to sit, using his redshirt and three years to play. The "off-season" for him isn't really going to be an off-season at all, rather just another opportunity to do a little more. "I know I have to sit a year." Clayton stated. "But, as I see it, it's just more time that I can work on my game." This "game" as he calls it is enough that most of those schools interested in him way back when, are clamoring back for another try and some other schools have jumped in as well.
Chris Pool reports on Jan 29 that Thomas is a heavy LEAN, but not a Northwestern commit.
"I was given my release and now I'm a soft commitment to Northwestern….Vanderbilt and Nebraska are also in the picture but if my (Northwestern) official visit goes well this weekend, I'll make my commitment solid."
Chris Pool reports on Feb 3 that Thomas liked his Northwestern visit but did not commit.
"I had a good visit," Clayton said. "I really liked the campus and the coaching staff at Northwestern."
"Northwestern is the team to beat but I'm going to take a few more visits."
On February 26, the Vandy site reported that Thomas would become a Commodore
Bobby Johnson's staff stayed in contact with Clayton and convinced him to make a visit to the Vanderbilt campus, which he did last weekend. Clayton was present for a Saturday spring practice session and toured the campus. The Feb. 26 edition of The Tennessean reported that Clayton "told Vandy's coaches he'll finish his career with the Commodores if he is admitted into school. His transcript has been submitted, and a decision on his acceptance could come by the end of the week."
It's not a done deal yet, but chances appear good that Clayton will be a Commodore by next fall. After sitting out the mandatory year following a transfer, he would become eligible as a sophomore in the 2004 season and have three years of eligibility left with the Commodores. With reported 4.32 speed in the 40-yard dash, he should be able to help the Commodores immediately.
A Thomas Clayton Montage
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