Colerain's Clifford Not Ready To Pull Trigger

Recognized by many as one of the top prospects in Ohio going into his senior season, Eugene Clifford has the all-around talent to help lead his team back to the state championship. Colerain went 15-0 and won the title in his sophomore year and now Clifford wants to get another one. In the mean time, he'll continue to be asked about the recruiting process and if it will be Ohio State or Michigan?

Although the Colerain Cardinals had their way with the Mason Comets for most of the night on their way to a 41-14 victory, Eugene Clifford wasn't necessarily pleased with his team's season-opening performance in the 9th Annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at Yeager Stadium on the campus of Miami University.

"We played all right," Clifford said. "We played kind of bad in the first half. We came back the second-half and came out strong."

Colerain took an early 14-0 lead before the turnover bugaboo hit them. They fumbled the football away three times and were hit with more than a couple of uncharacteristic penalties before they were able to put another score on the board to lead 21-0 at the half.

The Cardinals dominated the first-half yardage totals gaining 225 total yards, of which 50 came via the arm of junior quarterback Doug Reynolds, to just 15 total yards for the Comets.

Mason trailed 41-0 before their reserves scored two times in the final two minutes of the contest to complete the scoring at 41-14.

Clifford, regarded by many as one of the top players in Ohio for the 2006 season, wasn't exactly thrilled with the way he performed in the victory either.

"I don't think I did as good as I could," he said. "I messed up on a few plays but I'm going to get better next week, I promise that."

Listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds, Clifford played safety on defensive, some wide receiver on offense and he was back deep on punt returns.

"Yeah I dropped a punt. I've got to keep my eyes on the ball," Clifford said. "And I just have to make sure that I don't let nobody get behind me and make all of my tackles."

As far as recruiting is concerned for Clifford, he had nothing new to report after the game about his current situation.

"I'm just taking my time and playing the season right now," said Clifford who still seems to be considering, in addition to Ohio State, schools like Miami, Florida and Michigan. "I plan to go (on official visits) to a couple of them."

Clifford's commitment time frame may take him a little deeper into the season than when Tyler Moeller's came last season.

"Hopefully by the middle of the season," he said. "Hopefully."

Until that time comes, his former teammates at Colerain continue to give him a hard time about making his decision whenever they see him. All in good fun of course.

"Here goes one of them now," said Clifford with a laugh when Connor Smith approached him after the game to congratulate him. "Between Michigan and Ohio State (I hear it from) Cobrani (Mixon) and Mister (Simpson), and Connor and Tyler (Moeller)."

Ohio State let Clifford know they were thinking about him prior to the first game of his senior season.

"Today, actually, they text me," said Clifford about the message he received from Coach Beckman. "They told me good luck in my game today."

Defense is most likely to be the position for Clifford at the college level but it really doesn't matter to him what position he plays.

"Some are looking at me to play receiver and DB," Clifford said. "It doesn't matter to me. (Whichever way) is the quickest way that I can get on the field."

And if defense is indeed his calling at the next level, as most people in the recruiting universe seem to believe it will be, Clifford sincerely has no preference about whether he'll play safety or cornerback.

"Corner or safety? Nah it doesn't matter," he said. "Just the quickest way that I can get on the field."

Clifford, who said he doesn't mind fielding all of the questions of which many are the same, genuinely likes the recruiting business.

"It's kind of fun," he said. "All of these recruiters talking to me and stuff kind of makes me feel special a little bit."

He's definitely a special player. That's obvious after watching Clifford perform on the field. The extra media attention just comes with the territory.

"It's a good thing," he said, "but it gets tiring sometimes."

For inspiration, Clifford has to look no farther than to those aforementioned players from Colerain who have been just as highly recruited as he has.

"(They're) very inspirational to me. I look up to them," he said. "And I'm trying to take my team to a state championship just like everybody else."

Without St. Xavier on their regular season schedule this year, Clifford and his Cardinals are almost a cinch to go into the post-season with an undefeated record. And by that time, Colerain should be more than ready to try and avenge those two losses last season to the Bomb Squad and earn a chance to claim a state championship of their own.

Photo Gallery : Colerain's Eugene Clifford

Eugene Clifford

Colerain captains

"We'll defend this end."

Gary Pride, Clifford, Gary Goines and Brandon Mills.

Former Cardinal Connor Smith with Clifford.

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