Cory Clay is somewhat of a Renaissance man on the J.Z. George campus.
It’s hard for Clay not to stand out as he is 6-feet tall and weighs 323 pounds.
Not only is Clay a standout football player, he’s also a member of the band and recently took up acting, landing the lead role in a production last year.
He’s also the latest member of The Winona Times/The Conservative Top 11 Players to Watch for the upcoming football season.
J.Z. George Head Coach Ben Burton said Clay is a well-liked kid on campus.
“People love him,” Burton said. “He plays in the band. We started a drama program, and he was part of that. People around here just love him. He was one of the lead characters in [the last two productions]. He’s very talkative. People flock to him because of his positivity. He has been in the band since sixth grade. Eventually, he will have to make a choice between band and football if he gets recruited.”
Clay has been a member of the J.Z. George band since the sixth grade and plays the snare drums, even performing at halftime during football games. Clay said he has a scholarship offer from Holmes Community College to be in the band.
“I suspect that he has a far greater chance to go to college in band than football,” Burton said. “It’s almost a lock that he will get a scholarship in band. He has the tools to play college football, and that’s something that we have talked about that he will have to make a decision about.”
Clay only played in three games last year as he struggled with injuries.
“We wanted to play him both ways last year, but he was injured a good part of the year,” Burton said. “He spent more time on offense because we had injuries on the offensive line, but he will mainly play defense for us this year. He’s a guy that’s going to be hard to move because of his size. He has gotten a lot stronger in the weight room, and he is a very coachable kid, which really helps.”
Burton said Clay could play college football if he wanted.
“I think he has the potential to play,” Burton said. “His way to college would probably be on the offensive line. He played predominantly on offense last year and did a good job of blocking down. With his size and strength and height, if he gets a chance, it will be on the offensive line. When college guys come in, I tell them he could play on the offensive line somewhere, but I would think that he’s probably a center.”
Burton said Clay will be a starter on the defensive line and will be the first sub on the offensive line.
“He has a really good work ethic, and he never has a bad day,” Burton said. “He has some things he needs to do. He needs to work on using his hands better to get off blocks. That’s probably the number one thing for him, to work on getting off blocks so he can redirect plays.”
Burton said he still wants to play college football.
“I try to work hard in practice and lead by example,” Clay said. “The team situation has already improved tremendously since last year. We want to let our name be known that we have gotten better since last year. I’m trying to get some offers. The coaches say I need to get four to five tackles a game, and do my job and squeeze. I just need to be coachable and do what they are telling me to do.”
Clay said he works with his grandfather in his garage and that he also likes to hunt and fish when he gets time.
“He is always upbeat and positive,” Burton said. “He has a really good work ethic. He comes to work every day, and people flock to him because he is so positive all of the time. He is really strong, and we as coaches have to get him to use the strength he has. He has all of the tools. He just has to use them.”