Wisconsin Junior RB John Clay: Best in US?

The 2007 running back class is going to be stacked with sensational talent from coast-to-coast. The Midwest will be well represented in that category and the best of the best could be Wisconsin player-of-the-year John Clay. Clay rushed for 2,032 yards and 30 TD's as a junior and led his team to a state championship. 14 of Clay's touchdown runs were over 40 yards and eight of his touchdown runs were over 65 yards. Clay could be the best high school football player ever in the Badger State.

Scout.com caught up with Clay and his coach, Dennis Thompson, at Park High in Racine, Wis., to ask the questions that all the recruitniks around the country want to know. What are Clay's goals? Where will he camp in the spring and summer? Which schools have offered a scholarship and which schools are the early leaders for his services.

"I have to say the God, family and my friends are the three most important things to me," John Clay said.

"The best advice I've ever been given has been by my parents and that's just to work hard, don't give up and give 110% at everything and treat others how you want to be treated.

"I started playing football when I was around 8 or 9 years old and I always played running back. I wear #32 because of Jim Brown, he's my idol. I try and emulate his running style and I look up to him."

Dennis Thompson, head coach at Park High, first heard of Clay when John was an eighth grader.

"I heard he (Clay) was pretty good," Coach Thompson said laughing. "When John arrived here at Park we kept him down on the freshman team and he played outside linebacker and running back.

"It wasn't long before we moved Johnny (Clay) up to the varsity and he just took off from there. What sets John apart from others is his love of the game, he's always willing to get better and his athletic ability. You see him do things in practice and in games that just can't be taught."

Clay was named all-state as a sophomore and was named player-of –the-year as a junior and led Park to a state championship so what else is there to accomplish?

"I want to win another state championship next year," Clay said. "I want to work on my game. I need to stay lower while running. There's always room for improvement.

"I don't want to be a one dimensional running back. I'm going to work on catching the ball out of the backfield; I'm going to work on speed, my power and hitting holes faster."

Coach Thompson will definitely be a busy man comes April and May when the spring evaluation period is going full throttle and coaches will start to visit Park High on a daily basis. We asked Clay if there are any schools that stand out at this point in his recruitment.

"I don't have any scholarship offers right now," Clay said. "I camped at Wisconsin last year and that was my only camp. I'm not sure where I'm going to be camping this year. Wisconsin would be up there. I'm just going to be looking for the best fit.

"My parents and family, I have four sisters that are all older and my coach will all help me in the process. Distance won't be a factor. I'm just going into this process with an open mind looking for a good fit.

"I also like Notre Dame, Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee, Nebraska and Florida State a lot. I'm going to drive to some schools in the spring and summer to check things out."

What most people don't know is that John Clay could also be the best linebacker in Wisconsin and he takes pride in sacking the quarterback. We asked Clay if he'd rather crunch bones on defense or carry the football in college.

"I'm definitely a running back and I crunch just as many bones on offense as I do on defense." Clay said smiling.

John Clay idolizes Jim Brown and after watching film, he has an uncanny resemblance to Eddie George. His combination of power, speed, vision and athleticism are that of the former Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner.

Look for John Clay to be one of the most sought after prospects in the class of 2007.

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