Heading into the season it looked like the biggest impact senior running back Brennan Clay was going to have at Oklahoma was in the recruiting circles.
Part of the infamous “Cali Trio” of Clay, wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive back Tony Jefferson, the three have changed the recruiting game for the Sooners in California.
Recruits the last two years have talked heavily about the success of Stills and Jefferson as reasons to why they believed they could be successful in Norman, Okla., too.
And Clay, for lack of a better term, was just a third wheel. That all started to change midway through last season when Clay took advantage of his opportunities.
Running back Damien Williams couldn’t stay healthy, while Roy Finch was struggling to stay on the field. Clay stepped up and closed 2012 strong.
And he’s started 2013 right where he left off.
“I believe in myself,” Clay said. “I’ve known the whole time. It’s just a matter being able to get on the field and be 100 percent healthy. There aren’t any nicks on my body, and I feel really comfortable out there.”
It has shown in the first two games as Clay is the team’s leading rusher with 213 yards on 30 carries, averaging more than seven yards per rush. Included in that was a career-high 177 yards on 22 carries last week.
OU has rushed for more than 300 yards in each of its first two games so it’s easy for some to say any running back has success right now.
Not to the extent of Clay, however.
“He’s done some positive things,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “He has done a great job with pace and letting his blockers get ahead of him and is doing a good job of setting up those guys in the zone scheme.”
Being patient is not easy, but it has been what has set Clay apart right now. It’s a big reason why he was able to rattle off runs of 34, 32 and 26 yards in the second half last week.
He’s not forcing the action. Instead he’s letting fullbacks Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski pave the way to daylight. And when Clay sees the hole, he’s not missing it.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything differently,” Clay said. “It’s just been a matter of getting back on the field and being able to take some carries. I’m used to defenses, and it’s slowed the pace down for me. It’s really just all coming together.”