Jeffersonville (Ga.) Twiggs County coach Dexter Copeland is expecting big things out of his squad this season, and one of the main reasons why is the play of linebacker Antonio Clay.
Clay (6-2, 225, 4.6) recorded 103 tackles, 15 sacks, two interceptions and two defensive touchdown returns as a junior in earning honorable mention all-state and all-area honors.
He’s followed that up with a great off-season of workouts and could be poised to be one of the Peach State’s top prospects.
“He’s really taken off in the weightroom,” Copeland said. “He’s gotten a lot bigger, more explosive. He’s benching 315, squatting close to 500, power cleaning 300. He’s up about 10 pounds from 215 to 225. He’s really looking good.”
Copeland compared Clay’s potential to a couple of big names in the South at the college level.
“I’ve had the luxury of coaching Odell Thurman, the middle linebacker at Georgia, and LeRoy Hill, the middle linebacker for Clemson, and I can tell you at this stage he’s better than both of them,” Copeland said. “He’s the size of Odell with the speed of LeRoy. He’s like LeRoy because he’s one of those guys who plays a lot faster than the 40 time. He has great instincts and a nose for the ball.”
Clay has also played tight end for Twiggs County. As a sophomore, he caught 40 passes for 635 yards and nine touchdowns. He had two touchdown receptions as a junior in limited time at tight end, but Copeland said he’s skilled enough to get scouts’ attention at that position as well.
In addition to his physical tools and performance on the field, Clay is a well-rounded student-athlete.
“Antonio’s got a 3.5 GPA,” Copeland said. “He’s a literary student. He’s on the debate team. You can’t find a better kid.”
Arkansas, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn, Clemson and Maryland have shown the most interest to date.
“I can tell you right now, if Arkansas offers, I think he might jump on it,” Copeland said. “He loves those guys. They were the first one to recruit him, and he started watching them on TV a lot. He just fell in love with their program.”