Cody Clay Finds Role in WVU Offense - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Cody Clay Finds Role in WVU Offense


The number doesn't look much like what you'd expect of a fullback in West Virginia's backfield. When 88 lines up, you think receiver or tight end.

The player doesn't look much like what you'd expect of a fullback in Dana Holgorsen's offense. When a 6-foot-4, 256-pound bruiser puts his hand in the dirt, you think offensive lineman.

This season, though, that No. 88 and those measurements belong to Cody Clay. He has tried all of those other positions in his brief career in Morgantown, but none worked out to the way he had planned.

When he was told to eat and become a center, he simply couldn't pack on the pounds the way the staff envisioned. Told to line up in the slot to block defensive backs and occasionally make a catch or two, well, he's not built for that, either.

So Robert Gillespie welcomed Clay to his meeting room, to sit beside fullbacks Ryan Clarke and Donovan Miles and learn yet another position as he prepared for his redshirt freshman season with the Mountaineers.

"At this point, I've just done whatever they've asked me to do," Clay says.

Whatever they've asked him to do led to what Clay estimates were 25 plays in WVU's win over James Madison. He lined up in the backfield, he blocked on field goals, punts and kickoff returns. The willingness to mold himself into the staff's idea of what he should be has him able to move from the scout team to the travel team and into the games.

"Last year, scout team, it's a little bit different," Clay admits. "You don't feel exactly like part of the team as I do now. That's a completely different feeling and it makes me feel a lot better about myself now that I'm contributing a lot more to the team."

Gillespie sees the desire from Clay, an Alum Creek, W.Va. native who wants to do what he can to help the team win, and says that the sort of mentality he brings to the meeting room is what got him into the lineup. You can never have too many players like Clay in terms of their motivation to do what's best for the team.

Now it's Gillespie's job to get him used to the position that will likely be where he sticks in the offense.
"Obviously it's a little bit different from him being a point of impact guy where the impact happens within inches of him. Now he has to understand how to approach the block," says Gillespie. "I've never worked with a guy that big, but he has a natural punch."

On Saturday, Clay got more playing time in the offense due to an injury to Miles, which kept the senior fullback off the field.

He took advantage of the opportunity, creating blocks for the rushers behind him, continuing to learn to play his new position with his size.

"At fullback, I just need to stay lower," says Clay. "Being a 6-foot-4 fullback is a little bit difficult playing against 5-foot-10 linebackers. They're lower than you and that's leverage, so I just need to work on that, my speed obviously, and stuff like that."

One of those running backs who Clay has been blocking for is sophomore Andrew Buie. The small, speedy ball carrier came to West Virginia highly touted in the recruiting ranks and with big expectations. He started as a true freshman.

When he looks at what Clay has been able to do and how much he has sacrificed for the whole, he can't help but feel inspired to do more.

"It definitely motivates us in the room for a guy who came in playing this and he transitioned to this and he's still as happy as can be regardless," says Buie. "It's just good to see people like that who aren't selfish and it makes the team spirit that much better."

Buie says at this point in the season, Clay's play has earned the confidence of his teammates and when he comes into the game, they expect him to play well and the offense to not miss a beat.

As a West Virginian, Clay has always known the support of the fans in his state. The fact that he can get on the field and make a real impact for their university is the realization of a dream.

"[It means] a lot," he says. "This is where I wanted to play my entire life, so to be doing it for my team is a big deal for me."

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