Redshirt sophomore Cody Clay
just does what he’s told.
The Alum Creek, W.Va., resident played tight end in high school before arriving at West Virginia in hopes of doing the same. But then his coaches told him that they wanted him to gain some weight and try to play center. When he couldn’t put on the weight, he was pegged to try something else.
“Around bowl time, I was doing a lot of receiver stuff, and fullback and tight end,” Clay said. “Just expect a lot more of that this year. If they throw me the ball, we’re able to add that sort of unpredictability to our offense where they won’t know where we can throw it.”
Clay said he still doesn’t know what his ideal weight should be, but he’s just trying to lose whatever fat he has remaining while adding more muscle.
“I know now what they want me to do (on the field). That’s reassuring,” he said.
The sophomore had some crucial performances last year in helping jump start the Mountaineer rushing attack. He filled in at fullback during West Virginia’s record-setting 807-yard offensive performance against Baylor. He appeared in every game, starting six, including the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.
Against Oklahoma, he recorded his first career catch for 19 yards. He made another grab in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“It feels good to me that I’m sort of important to this team. I never would have guessed that two years ago coming in, especially this early on, that they would want me to have a leadership role and all that,” Clay said. “It’s a really surreal experience knowing that I matter.”
What Clay has done so far isn’t eye-popping. He’s not breaking any offensive records, but he does the dirty work that helps create offensive production. Initially, he said he wasn’t totally sure what he was doing when playing fullback - or whatever other role he was asked to do, but more playing time has led to increased confidence.
And that confidence is turning into more of a leadership role this summer. He said he’s trying to do the little things to make sure the team gets better.
“I really think it’s just an attitude you go into it with. If you go into it thinking you’re tired, and it’s going to suck, then it’s going to suck. It’s just the way it is,” Clay explained. “If I see someone down, I try to tell them to change their attitude. There’s no reason to be down and upset over something you can’t control. You’re going to (work out) whether you want to or not.”
Unlike a season ago with the uncertainties that came with joining a new conference, Clay said the team has a much better idea of what they’re preparing for this year.
“I didn’t play much when we were in the Big East,” Clay said. “They could have an off-week because the competition wasn’t always as tough, but now I feel like we understand we have to come in week-in and week-out as hard as we can.”
Everyone will be ready for that type of play, too, Clay said.
“We know what kind of football they play in the Big 12 - the high flying, throwing the ball (all over the place). The defense knows too. We know how hard we need to work to get where we want to be,” he concluded.