There's no denying: John Clay is legit

There's little doubt running back John Clay will be one of the most sought after prospects in the country this year. Just by the amount of mail he gets daily, he's off to a pretty good start. So, how does someone even start to narrow all the schools down when it seems like everyone is trying to get a look? Clay isn't sure and really, he's taking this popularity in stride.

First of all, if you are 6 foot, 2 inches tall, weigh around 220 pounds and can run a legit 4.5/40, you can't buy enough bibs for the coaches drooling down their chins.

Well, that's John Clay, but before you figure he might be just a paper tiger, this young man ran for over 1,400 yards as a sophomore, scoring 15 times and he ran for over 2,000 yards as a junior, scoring 30. So, what's next…..3,000 yards and 40?

"No, I don't think all that much about the numbers," John said. "I just kind of go out there and do what I do."

That's modest, but that's John, not one to tell you how good he is or even talk a little trash to the opponent, telling them what he's about to do. He'll let you pull up or plug in the video, or perhaps you can come by and see him for yourself. Midwest regional recruiting analyst says that people will be "amazed" when they see what he can do and describes Clay as that typical big back, but with anything but typical moves.

"He's a sledgehammer that can move," Pool said of Clay. "You can't get him down on first contact, but sometimes you just can't touch the kid either. He's got it all."

While Clay is modest, he'll tell you what HE thinks he does that makes him the back he is. "I think I have good vision, because you have to be able to see the field, but I am not real easy to bring down," he said. "I can hit that hole pretty fast and it's usually pretty hard to get me down if you try and tackle me from the front."

You'd think anyone in their right mind would know better than to even attempt to tackle Clay from the front or even worse, up high. John said he doesn't see it as much anymore, because once it happens, it doesn't happen much after that. "They'll try to, but they usually just end up going low on me," Clay said of would-be tacklers trying to take him high or from the front. "I get used to putting my shoulder down, because most of these guys are going for my legs."

The recruiting attention is what you would expect, the mail coming in droves. Actually, the recruiting attention isn't necessarily what you expect, because that's all it has been. With some backs, who might not be as good as Clay already sporting a decent amount of offers, one has to wonder why Clay doesn't even have his first one as of yet. "Oh, I don't know, but I don't really think about it too much," John said. "I am hearing from a lot of schools and there are quite a few that seem really interested, but it's just that nobody has offered yet."

It certainly isn't grades, Clay reporting that he had a 2.9 GPA right now and will be taking his SAT or ACT in the summer. But typical to Clay's personality, he doesn't worry about what he can't control, rather only the things he can. "There's a lot of time, so I don't really think it's too much to get caught up in right now," he said. "I'll go take some visits this spring or summer, maybe hit some camps, but I'm doing track right now and there's lots of stuff going on."

The goals for his final year are pretty simple and typical for most prep stars across the land: Have a better year, be a better player, have a better team. The last part isn't going to be easy, because it will take a state title just to equal their achievements a season ago. But the rest is for Clay, just a matter of time and, of course, effort. "If you do the work, you get the results," he said. "The harder you work, the better the results usually are. I just look at it like that and the rest takes care of itself."

"All you can do is the best you can do."

Because the mailbox is literally packed most of the time, John hasn't even taken time to figure out what schools he's looking at and if any of them are those that will fit what he wants to do. You might find it surprising, though, just what concerns him more. "I don't really care where it's at and it doesn't have to be a national title team or be where it's nice," Clay said. "The most important thing to me is how I feel there, how I fit in and what kind of person and player I will be."

"The rest really just doesn't concern me, because it's the relationships that matter the most."

He's developed one with the Huskers, though, it's probably as much as it is with a ton of schools who are sending him tons of mail. But the odd thing is, when you ask him who is recruiting him, his reply. "Coach Callahan is recruiting me," Clay said of Nebraska's head coach. "and coach Cosgrove is recruiting me, too."

That's something and it actually has become a little more typical of Nebraska this year, where Bill Callahan has gotten more personally involved a lot sooner than it appeared he did last year. Does that mean there's an increased effort by the Huskers across the board or are they just that interested in Clay?

It would be hard to fault them for either, because with all teams, recruiting never ends and even USC can't get all the best players in the land, and Clay could very well be one of those.

He won't say it, but everyone else will and his video says plenty as well. John Clay is definitely one of THE juniors to watch.


Big Red Report Top Stories