Coach Spotlight: Cameron Clear

Securing the talent-rich Memphis area is always a top priority for the head coach of Tennessee. This year Derek Dooley landed not only the city best player, but one of the top players in the state in Cameron Clear.

Two men instrumental in aiding Clear's rise to top high school recruit status were Fred Taylor, Assistant Principal at Memphis Central High School, who assisted in Clear's recruiting and assistant coach Ralph Hill, the defensive coordinator at Central when Clear transferred in as a sophomore from Hamilton.

"Cam came to Central in the 10th grade with aspirations of becoming a basketball player," said Taylor. "Several of his friends here encouraged him to go out for football and he decided to give it a shot."

Ralph Hill was coordinating the Central defense and immediately saw something special in Clear.

"I was the P.A. announcer for the basketball team, and I had seen Cam play," said Hill. "I thought he was one heck of an athlete and asked him if he had any interest in playing football. When he came out, he started right away. Teams recognized what kind of player he was because they wouldn't come anywhere near his direction."

In Clear's junior season, he remained at defensive end but also worked in at tight end on offense, the position he's blossomed into the last two years.

"Cam fell in love with the position," said Taylor. "He has the frame and athletic ability of most tight end out there. With his size he can block someone between 280-300 pounds, and at the same time have the ability to get open and use his 6-6 body to jump up and catch balls. Coach Dooley and Charlie Baggett recruited him exclusively at tight end, and I think he was real excited about that."

After a summer on the camp circuit, Clear came back to have an All-District (TN-16 AAA) season with 18 catches for 250 yards and six touchdowns. On defense he had 60 tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles.

"What impressed me the most on Cam's senior season was his focus," said Hill. "He was like a tornado in his intensity of going to camps then coming back and work with the same intensity with his teammates at Central.

"It was nice to be able to introduce this to the youngsters. For them to be able to see what it takes for a heavily recruited player working hard towards the next level was inspirational for them to watch throughout the year."

With a GPA of more than a 3.0 and a 21 on the ACT college entrance exam, Clear is qualified to play at Tennessee after his high school graduation. Excellence is in the classroom is what earns high praise from his Vice Principal.

"Cam's an outstanding student," said Taylor. "He's never in any trouble. As a student, he takes academics as seriously as his football. I think you can look at his parents for holding him to that. They've both done and excellent job in raising him to the person he is today."

On signing day, Central had a dozen athletes from the school signing scholarships, among them LaShea Shaw, an outstanding track star at Central who signed with Murray State. The highlight was Clear choosing between his final four: Duke, Alabama, Memphis, and Tennessee.

"Ever since his announcement I haven't seem him stop smiling," Hill said of Clear. "He's a rock star around here. I mean that in the sense that everyone loves him. Cam doesn't have a big head, he's humble, does a good job of helping those around him.

"It's really a reflection of his parents and the job they've done with him. Cam's got a big heart. He's a big guy, 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, but he's got a big personality too. He's a jokester."

Clear was selected to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, SC. In the off-season he's playing basketball and staying on top of the books as the prepares to go to Knoxville in early summer.

"Cam's going to do what best fits the team," said Taylor. "He's got a huge upside at tight end with his footwork and hands. He got so much natural athletic ability that I look for him to continue to grow as a football player and to see expect big things from Cam at Tennessee. He's just got to go out there and go after it."

Coach Hill added, "Cam knows he has to maintain a certain weight and could be moved around. He's a couple of biscuits away from being a left tackle, but he'd make a heck of a left tackle."

Central is often called "The" High School because it was the first in Memphis being established in 1909. Clear wore No. 85 for the Warrior football team.

Cameron Clear

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