Feats of Clay

Having identified and offered their top choice at running back in the Class of 2007 some three weeks ago, Tennessee is now turning up the heat in the recruiting process in an effort to land No. 4 rated John Clay.

Although he's far from naming a leader much less choosing a college, the Vols intense interest appears to have gotten his attention, and approval.

"I'm definitely going to take an official visit to Tennessee," he told Scout.com's Josh Clark. "I've had more contact with them than anyone recently, and it seems they've made me more of a priority than others. I've gotten good vibes from their coaches, and they've told me that I'll have a chance to earn playing time as a true freshman."

Although Scout.com has Clay listed as its No. 4 ball carrier, Central Casting would put someone with his size, build and speed into the lead role on any power running attack. At 6-foot-2, 222 pounds and with 4.45 speed, he certainly looks the part.

Furthermore, his production as a junior at Park High School underscores that ability while strongly suggesting vast potential as a collegiate player. He rushed for 2,032 yards and 31 touchdowns in 174 carries as in 2005 averaging an eye popping 12 yards per run.

And John Clay is not resting on his laurels, During the ongoing off season the big back is taking care of his body and letting recruiting take care of itself.

"Recruiting is the furthest thing on my mind right now," Clay told Scout.com. "I'm concentrated on working out, and getting in better shape. I weigh 222 right now, but I'd like to be at 230 by our first game against Oak Creek."

Among his favorites are Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas, USC and Wisconsin. Although Clay has the size to be a first-rate fullback, he has the speed to exploit a hole as well as the power to make one. He is seldom brought down by first contact and frequently breaks multiple tackles on a single carry. His rare combination of size, strength and straight-line speed reminds some of a young Jamal Lewis, although Clay hasn't seen the level of competition the former Vol did as high school star in Georgia.

"I'm going to cut my list down to something like five or ten schools by this fall," Clay said of his recruiting timetable. "I'm looking for a situation where I know I'll have a chance to get in the game as a freshman, and be put in the offense quickly as soon as I'm physically and mentally ready."

Sounds like Big John is getting ready for prime time.

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