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mesaSteeler
12-25-2011, 10:12 AM
Clay's first play broke the mold

By Andrew Chiappazzi Times Sports Correspondent | Posted: Saturday, December 24, 2011 11:45 pm
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/clay-s-first-play-broke-the-mold/article_246bb31a-c516-5c19-bcb3-265e349adf5a.html

PITTSBURGH -- Whatever John Clay planned to give his parents for Christmas can stay unwrapped. Maybe Clay still has the receipt and can return it. He has something better now.

The rookie running back out of Wisconsin got his first carry in the NFL and made it a memorable one, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Clay made sure to grab the ball after the run, because he has plans for it.

"Yeah I've got it. I'm going to keep it as a Christmas present to my parents," Clay said, a wide smile on his face. "They've been there for me from the beginning and supporting me, so it's a gift from me to them."

It's been a winding road for Clay since he left Wisconsin prior to his senior season. Clay was told by the NFL scouting service that he should be a third or fourth round pick after running for 3,413 yards and scoring 41 touchdowns over three seasons. His agent and others in the NFL thought he'd be a fifth or sixth round pick at worst.

But the call never came on draft day, and the lockout made waiting for a phone call from an NFL team to sign as an undrafted free agent even more nerve-wracking than usual. Clay finally ended up on the practice squad after a difficult training camp. But with Mewelde Moore hurt, he made the active roster Saturday.

With one 10-yard run, all the frustration and pent up emotion of the last year was gone.

"After I crossed the goal line and everybody started cheering, it just exploded out of me," Clay said. "I've been dreaming about this day, getting my first touchdown and being part of this organization. It was a plus-plus for me and then an extra plus for me getting in the game and scoring."

The Steelers understood. Lineman Max Starks, who helped pave the way for Clay's touchdown, said even the longest tenured veteran remembers his first play in the NFL.

"I remember my first time going in was against New England in short yardage on the goal line. I remember I came down and just crushed Richard Seymour. We ended up going in for the score," Starks said. "You want to show people what you have and any time you get a chance to do that, I think it's special. He did it on the biggest stage and he had a chance to do it in a big way."

The entire moment was a bit serendipitous for Clay. Rashard Mendenhall was a little gassed after a 52-yard run, so running backs coach Kirby Wilson told Clay to go in. The Steelers ran the ball for the fourth straight time on the drive, and the hole opened up in front of him.

"It's unreal. I didn't know if supposed to stutter step or something," Clay said. "I didn't know if I was going to run all the way through there. I had to make the one guy miss and I was in the end zone."

Clay began the week expecting to play only on special teams. Instead he ended up with a lasting memory and a unique Christmas present.

"You never really forget those moments," Starks said. "I don't think he will either, especially since he scored a touchdown on his first play."

Twentyvalve
12-25-2011, 10:18 AM
That is a great story. It is awesome to read about the triumphs, even a single play TD, by rookies of any team. I hope he continues to get some time and has a great career.

I can't imagine how it must feel to be out there on the field.

Bayz101
12-25-2011, 03:01 PM
It was a nice little run, no-doubt. Now we just got to get his rookie mistakes out of the way and he'll likely be a dangerous weapon!

MasterOfPuppets
12-25-2011, 03:29 PM
career stats

clay- 10 yd avg
mendenhall- 4.1
redmen - 4.4

it's pretty obvious who should be starting ...:popcorn:

Bayz101
12-25-2011, 03:35 PM
career stats

clay- 10 yd avg
mendenhall- 4.1
redmen - 4.4

it's pretty obvious who should be starting ...:popcorn:


:rofl:

harrison'samonster
12-25-2011, 03:36 PM
those running backs are in alphabetical order by last name as well. Well, I guess it's Batch over Roethlisberger from here on out.

Twentyvalve
12-26-2011, 09:05 AM
I think this guy writes Chinese menus for restaurants.

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harrison'samonster
12-26-2011, 09:08 AM
I think this guy writes Chinese menus for restaurants.

you're making me hungry, and it's 3 hrs till lunch