Clay And Billie Battle It Out
When Antonio Clay spurned Oklahoma on National Signing Day and signed with Clemson, Clay was ready to fill the role vacated by Leroy Hill. Anthony Waters had a breakout year, and Waters emerged as one of the ACC’s top linebackers and a true leader on defense. Then, the question started circling, how will Clay get on the field in his sophomore season.
Clay’s play on the field as a backup to Waters made it evident that he is definitely one of Clemson’s top three or four linebackers. The coaches took notice and moved Clay to the SAM linebacker position this spring.
With the announcement of Clay’s position move prior to the spring, everyone started circling Clay and Tramaine Billie as one of the battles to watch this spring.
Billie has been a two-year starter at SAM linebacker, and he has the experience edge on Clay. In the minds of most, Clay is the more talented of the two. Every pre-season, linebackers coach David Blackwell says, “Talent will overcome experience almost every time, if you give talent experience.”
The battle has not disappointed anyone, especially the coaches. The battle between Clay and Billie has came up almost every time Coach Bowden has addressed the media.
Billie, the rising senior, has held the spot down half way through spring practice. Clay made a big impression in the last scrimmage, as he continues his pursuit to break into the starting line-up.
This battle will continue to be one to watch going into and through fall camp. Both players are expected to continue to push each other through the summer. The good news is both players are capable of starting, and the coaches feel comfortable with both. Now, the competition should make both better players in 2006.