MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Whether he’s lined up at fullback, tight end or inside receiver, Cody Clay’s first impulse remains the same: Hit somebody.

“I like blocking. I like hitting people,” said the wide-smiling Clay. “I’m just a football player, I guess.”

The rising sophomore from Alum Creek relishes his utility role, and the coaches relish him for it. Exhibit A comes in this assessment from running back coach JaJuan Seider:

“The guy I really like right now is Cody Clay. He is competing his butt off. He is doing a lot of stuff for us. The kid’s just doing everything — he is playing attached, detached, blocking and catching the ball. I am really impressed.”

That’s the brand of positive feedback Clay has been receiving since last fall, when his versatility began to show. In 13 games as a redshirt freshman, the 6-foot-3 Clay became a crucial lead blocker in the running game and even caught two passes working out of the slot.

“(Cody Clay) makes the running back room better, because those guys see him competing and laying it on the line every day. I say, ‘You don’t understand how privileged you are to have a guy in front of you to lay his body on the line like that.'” – WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider

Not that Clay dreams of becoming the next 100-catch receiver in the Dana Holgorsen assembly line. He half-jokingly admitted he prefers to work in bunched packages at tight end because he finds the wide-open spaces at receiver intimidating.

“After I catch it, I don’t know what exactly to do, so I just hit the first person I see,” he said. “I’m not going to break away from somebody.”

Coming out of George Washington High School, where Clay starred at tight end and defensive line, most recruiters projected him as an offensive lineman. Among those was Seider, then a Marshall assistant.

“I felt he could play tight end in the right offense … but everybody knew what Cody was going to be — that he was going to be an offensive lineman,” Seider recalled. “He ran well and caught the ball well, but he was just big.”

Coaches originally wanted him to put on 30 pounds and shift to center, but the weight gain didn’t come naturally. No matter how often he pigged out at the training table, Clay couldn’t get close to the desired 290 mark. So instead of eating his way into a linemen’s physique, Clay saw an opportunity to contribute at the skill positions and began working to keep the weight off. In two-plus college years, he has made strength gains while managing to add less than five pounds.

“It’s a testament to him that he’s keeping the weight off,” said Seider, who sees a healthy dose of home-state pride in Clay, along with a willingness to sacrifice for teammates.

“He makes the running back room better, because those guys see him competing and laying it on the line every day,” said Seider. “I say ‘You don’t understand how privileged you are to have a guy in front of you to lay his body on the line like that.'”

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  • Dabba Do

    The young man has a great attitude. We could have used him as a blocking back and a short yardage runner last season. A good hefty safety valve receiver would be great too. I'm dreaming, the new model Anthony Becht.

  • jspurlock86

    WAY TO GO CODY!!!!!!
    Nice to see a WV guy doing well at WVU, as well as a fellow GWHS alum!!!!

  • tw eagle

    the kids from West Virginia competing at state universities will always standout . . .being a small state , with not much competition it is hard to guage the quality of West Virginias high school athletes . . .therefore they get little attention paid to them . . .WVU and Marshall would do well to find spots for more West Virginia kids . . .if the legislature could find a way to have all the coal companies operating in the state of West Virginia pay the tuition of all children of their workers(some already do)
    that qualify academically , more state athletes would be available to play sports . . .
    not as scholarship athletes but as walk ons . . .

  • sshepherd

    gotta be proud anytime you see a wv boy busting his butt and doing good things...hopefully the coaching staff will take note and maybe look at our in-state players a little closer...Great Job Cody!!!

  • Larry Wiseman

    I think that any WV born player is a "blue-collar worker, because of where he comes from! Most all WV people have worked hard to get what they want, because we have so much Pride in our State! We all want a winning team, and if we had 100 player's like Cody, there's NO DOUBT, that we could beat anyone, & everyone that we played!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, CODY! WE ARE ALL BEHIND YOU!!