MADISON, Wis. - For John Clay, spring ball was synonymous with sore ankles that limited his performance. With such a big body, it is completely logical that the sophomore could have ankle issues because opponents tackle him low. Now, though, with a summer to get healthy, Clay is at full strength in fall camp.
During UW's annual media day, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Clay. The following is a question and answer with Clay, with a guest appearance from Jaevery McFadden.
How did summer training go for you?
Clay: Summer training went real good. I got a time to rest my body, my ankles. I didn't do too much running just a lot of conditioning, a lot of pool work that just gave my ankles the rest I needed.
Is that (your ankles) a concern for you going into fall camp at all?
Clay: No, it's not. I'm just doing anything necessary, you know, if anything was bothering me last year, just to take more precaution and take as much pressure off of them.
I was talking with coach John Settle the other day and he was saying he would like for you to maybe step out of bounds instead of taking on two or three guys. He didn't want you to lose your physicality, but do you have to try to limit some contact at all?
Clay: You know, I may have to but with the style of running I do I don't tend to shy away from contact. It's going to be a long season. It's certain points where I don't need to take three, four, five defenders on when I could just, if I'm close to the sidelines, just step out of bounds or just go down.
Is that easier said than down? When you get those guys in your crosshairs you just want to roll over them.
Clay: Yeah, you could say that. Once you get all emotional and your adrenaline is going, you think you can basically take on the world. So, it's just got to be smart, that's basically what it's all about.
What's in store for you this year? What are you trying to accomplish?
Clay: I just want to have a good season. We didn't finish out good like we wanted to last year, but this year I want to do as much as possible to help the team out. If it's anything, blocking, running, catching the pass, whatever. I want to do whatever I can to help the team.
What about the rotation of the running backs? You guys have four guys, including Montee Ball, the freshman. What has he been showing you so far?
Clay: He's been showing how good he can be this coming up year. He's good to run up between the tackles. He's got the burst to go outside. It's unlimited for him. He can do anything.
What about Zach Brown? It seems like he's having a heck of a start to fall camp, too.
Clay: Oh yeah, Zach, that's just Zach. He's always prepared. He's always got his game face on. You look at him, you see people dying out there and tired and Zach just keeps it cool. You could say he's more of a veteran than I am. He's been playing for three years. This is going to be his third year playing. I'd say he's more of a veteran than I am just because he's been through it.
As an offense, and as a team in general, do you think you can surprise some people? You guys weren't picked very high in the preseason.
Clay: Yeah, that's good for us. People don't expect nothing from us so we like to use that as motivation to show how special our team really is. Just shock the world, that's what we want to do.
Then, kind of a different note here, at the end of practice Saturday night, you guys had a freshman talent show? Anybody stand out?
Clay: Yeah, it was alright. Everybody did good, it was fun. It was a dance-off, everybody had a good time. It was real fun. That's just how close we are. We just have fun and joke and kid around with each other. We were just trying to have a good time. Try to get through this camp for each other.
Are you going to say who the best dancer was?
Clay: You know, I don't know who the best dancer was.
Who's the worst, maybe that's easier?
Clay: The worst? (Laughing) There were a lot of worse dancers. I say Nick Hill was pretty good.
McFadden: Who's the hardest hitter? You better show me some love.
Clay: I guess I could say, Jaevery McFadden, he's pretty decent.
McFadden: Who's the most athletic? Give me something.
Clay: (Laughing) Jaevery, you're alright bro. You're alright. You're alright.
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