Prep football: GW's Clay headed to Air Force
Often, a high school football player's statistics misrepresent that player's ability to play the game to a high level.
In the 2012 season, this could be seen at no better place than George Washington High School, where senior receiver Jordan Clay finished the year as an honorable mention Class AAA All-State selection.
That placement indicated that at least 82 players had a better year than Clay. Suffice it to say that as many won't be playing football next season at the level he will enter in the fall as a member of the Air Force Falcons.
Recruited to the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based academy, Clay was courted by tight ends coach Jake Moreland. Clay said Monday that the relationship between he and Moreland was anything but new.
"I'd talked to them pretty much since school started. He used to coach at Western Michigan, and I'd sent him my (game films) there," said Clay, who at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds will revert to his former position after spending much of his senior year as a wideout in GW's offense.
"He got the tight end spot at Air Force and started sending me emails from the academy," Clay said. "He came and visited the high school about two weeks ago and I went on a visit last week. I loved it."
Clay committed to Air Force Friday in Washington D.C., where he and Huff Award-winning linebacker Elijah Wellman from Spring Valley played for the South team, which fell 38-13 to the North on Saturday.
"It was really good," he said of playing in the nation's capital. "It was a good experience to see how I stacked up against all these other D-1 players going to Notre Dame, Maryland and a lot of places. I thought I stacked up pretty well."
Clay caught 29 passes for 379 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, good enough to lead the Patriots in receiving but not to garner much statewide attention as one of West Virginia's top receivers. He said the team's heavy reliance on the running ability of two-time Kennedy Award winner and North Carolina recruit Ryan Switzer actually helped prepare him for the college game in other ways.
"As long as we're winning I don't care," Clay said of not being the central part of the GW offense.
"As long as we're making stuff happen and winning games. Coach (Moreland) wanted me for my blocking as much as for my pass catching ability so it really helped me, actually."
He finished the season with 441/2 total tackles and two sacks on defense as well. In his prep career, Clay caught 44 passes for 510 yards and four scores. He had 100 career tackles and three sacks.
Clay becomes the fifth player from George Washington to accept a football scholarship to a Division I program in the last three seasons. His older brother, Cody Clay, is a fullback at West Virginia where he just completed his sophomore season.
The younger Clay's senior teammates, Ryan Switzer and Dustin Crouser, have accepted offers to play at North Carolina and Charlotte, respectively. Former Patriot Duran Workman accepted an offer to the U.S. Military Academy then transferred to Colorado State. He currently is at Saddleback Junior College in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Clay attributed GW's success in landing Division I scholarships as much to the academic strength of the school as to its football program.
"Lots of people can catch a pass or run, but schools don't only look at your football ability at the D-1 level," Clay said. "They look at what you're doing in class and they want to know what your character is like.
"They want to know what you want to do after football, because there's more to life than football. It's just a great opportunity, and a great education (at Air Force). I think with the military training and the strong academics, it'll be tough, but it's going to make me a better person. I think it'll pay off."
Wellman has committed to play at West Virginia. With the Martinsburg duo of wide receiver Cedric Brown and Hunt Award winner Eugene German headed to Ohio and Charlotte, respectively, the number of Mountain State seniors headed to Division I programs on scholarship stands at seven. Parkersburg South defensive back Logan Cox has committed to Akron.
"I think it's players like Cody and Duran and others who went D-1 in the past and have kind of put West Virginia on the map more," Clay said. "Earlier, when I went to talk to these coaches they weren't even recruiting West Virginia at all. Now, people are starting to look at West Virginia a little more as a football state, and know we play some good football here."
The list is expected to grow before signing day on Dec. 6. Cabell Midland's David Gaydosz has numerous offers including one from Cornell, and Shady Spring punter Houstin Syvertson has become a hot commodity in special teams pursuits of several programs including West Virginia. He most recently visited Rutgers, in late November.