Clayton on track to fulfill expectations in junior season

The order would be two double Baconators and two large fries from Wendy’s. That’s a whopping 2,960 calories, 5,000 mg of sodium, 102 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar, not including the ice-cold coke to wash down all of that food.

Antonneous Clayton was a five-star recruit and came to Florida with sky-high expectations from the outside. He had his own expectations for himself but so sick early on his freshman season and saw his weight drop. That’s what led him to that enormous order at Wendy’s. The coaches and strength staff wanted him to weigh a certain number and he wanted to get there and a nearly 3,000-calorie meal was definitely going to push his weight up.

But Clayton’s best asset was his speed and get off. The way he was trying to add weight was slowing him down.

“Last year I got my weight up but I wasn’t as in shape as I wanted to be,” he said. “Now I feel like I can gain any weight and still have that same motor, same athletic ability, speed, get off, everything.”

He didn’t have the guidance he needed as a young player in the last system. Clayton says Nick Savage just hasn’t changed the way the team works out but he’s also put a huge emphasis on hydration and diet. You can lift all the weight in the world but if you’re not hydrating properly and eating right your performance will suffer.

“It’s crazy because (before) I was tired during warmups even,” Clayton said of his first two seasons. “Now I’ve been eating better, I feel good, I’m playing good and it’s really showing on the field. I’m gonna stick with this diet I’m on now.”

Clayton isn’t the only one that’s noticed the changes. Dan Mullen and defensive line coach Sal Sunseri have praised him for his playmaking ability and how hard he’s played this spring. The last two seasons haven’t been what Clayton expected when he enrolled but he’s keeping his eyes forward and focusing on what he can to in the moment to make himself better.

“I just feel like, I’m not trying to be cocky, but I just feel like anybody I line up against I’m going to go full speed. Any guy that lines up in front of me, I know they’ve got to do their own thing, but when it’s my turn I know I’ve got to turn up the gas,” he said. “Like in the scrimmage, when I was working with the third team at first and then I moved up and moved up and I was still making plays. Then they moved me up to the twos. I just feel like they’ve been more confident in me. They just want me to make more plays and at the same time they want me to be more consistent and I completely understand.”

That consistency isn’t a message directed only at Clayton. It’s one that every position coach has preached to their players this spring. The first thing that was asked of the players was to give relentless effort and play hard. Clayton is doing that and he knows that he needs to be more consistent with his hands and assignments. Sunseri makes sure he knows that.

“He’s more blunt,” Clayton said with a laugh. “He’s way more blunt.”

Clayton keeps making plays and he’s keeping his head up. He called his freshman season a wake up call. He made confident predications last year prior to his sophomore campaign but didn’t live up to them. Now, he’s older, more mature and more focused on working that talking.

“They’re taking a chance on me now. I’ve been making plays, just minor mistakes,” he said. “I think if I keep building off this I could be in for something special. Whether I play or not is up to me. It’s not the coaches or anything. If I don’t play that’s my fault.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC