'Big Play' Clay details Tennessee visit

A tremendous number of college football prospects made their way to Knoxville over the weekend. Sign in to read about Scout four-star Chad Clay from the 2016 class.

Just how loud was the Tennessee crowd at a sold-out Neyland Stadium for the Volunteers’ home contest versus Alabama on Saturday night?

InsideTennessee asked a visitor who’s seen some of the top atmospheres anywhere.

“It was crazy, it was loud, it was very exciting,” Chad Clay told InsideTennessee. “That is one of the loudest places I’ve ever been to. It was as good as advertised.

“It’s up there with LSU and UGA in terms of it’s loud.”

Clay, who already owns five Southeastern Conference scholarship offers as a 2016 class defensive back, has also been down to The Plains and said “Auburn was pretty loud.”

In gauging how hard he feels the Tennessee staff is recruiting him, Clay said, “On a scale between 1-10, I’d say about an 8 or 9.”

The area recruiter in charge of Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) High School is Vols running backs coach Robert Gillespie.

“He’s an awesome dude, I like him,” Clay said of the second-year assistant. “He’s cool, he seems very down-to-earth. He’s a good guy.”

Clay has started getting to know the man who would be his defensive backs coach at Tennessee, Willie Martinez.

“I like him (Martinez), he’s a great guy,” Clay said. “I saw aggressiveness. Tennessee, they play very aggressively on defense, and I like that. That’s probably the biggest thing that I’d seen was how aggressive they play—and they always try to get a bunch of people to the ball.”

Gillespie, Martinez and the rest of the staff have work to do to show the nation’s No. 20-ranked junior cornerback that his future home should be in Knoxville.

“I just really knew from the coaches talking about it and their coaches reaching out to me and coming into contact with me.”

While in Knoxville, Clay got a chance to see some of the SEC’s best pass-catchers such as Amari Cooper and Marquez North. The challenge of facing NFL-bound wide receivers is something he relishes.

WILLIE MARTINEZ
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

“All my top schools are in the SEC right now because that’s where the best are. I want to play with the best,” he said.

“I think it’s very exciting because if you want to be the best, you always have to play against the best. So, I think if you can play and compete and do well against the best, that shows how good you really are.”

Although he has another 15 months before he will sign his National Letter of Intent, the Scout four-star has some schools sticking out.

“My top 3 right now is LSU, UGA and Auburn.”

Tennessee is being strongly considered but has some ground to catch up.

“I mean they’re up there but not yet,” the No. 1-rated junior corner in Georgia said.

When it comes time to separate schools at the top of that list, Clay has certain traits he seeks.

“Probably off of being able to play early and trust, like having trust with the coaching staff and wherever my family feels comfortable with me going.”

The declaration plans could come in the spring or summer heading into his senior season in the 2015-16 school year. Clay added that he does not yet know in what subject he will major but could possibly pursue being a coach or teacher “because I like working with kids.”

Clay describes his game as one that includes plenty of contact: “Physical corner. I like to play bump-and-run a lot and I like to press a lot and I’m a playmaker because I like to make a lot of plays.”

Players he looks up to include Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis and LSU junior safety Jalen Mills.

“I can play both corner and nickel,” the four-star said. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m on the field.”

Scout national analyst Chad Simmons saw Clay in action for Peachtree Ridge back in early September: “This young man was being called “Big Play” Clay by his teammates and he was showing why Friday night. He had one interception and he almost had three more. He had his hands on almost half a dozen passes and he showed his ability to make plays as a returnman as well. He has very good short-space quickness and he was strong playing on and off coverage. He likes to take risks, so he plays with a confidence on the island at corner.”

Clay say she plans to attend other games this fall, including Auburn versus Georgia and Alabama versus LSU.


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