Friday, January 7, 2011
BT roundup: Clay to NFL, Harbaugh to 49ers
By Adam Rittenberg
Two Big Ten-related news stories this afternoon, both of the "no surprise" variety.
It's official: Clay has decided to forgo his senior season at Wisconsin and enter the 2011 NFL draft.
I expected this before the season, and while Clay battled through a knee injury and didn't have the huge rushing production many had expected, he's certainly ready to make the jump. You can never fault running backs for leaving early, especially 23-year-old running backs with 629 attempts in college.
“There are a lot of people that I would like to thank who have helped me along the way,” Clay said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the great Wisconsin fans for supporting me throughout my time as a Badger. I'd also like to thank my family for helping me through this process. I want to thank my coaches for giving me the opportunity to come to Wisconsin and putting me in a position to showcase my talents. Also, thanks to my teammates for everything they have done to help me. Finally, I have to give glory to God for blessing me with this opportunity. This is the right decision for me at this time and I’m excited to start a new chapter."
The 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year fit the classic power back mold at Wisconsin. Although he'll likely need to slim down and improve his conditioning level in the NFL, Clay can be valuable at the next level.
Another reason to make the move is the competition at Wisconsin. There was no guarantee Clay would start ahead of Montee Ball or James White, both of whom eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards this season.
Best of luck to big John, a really, really nice guy who always was gracious with his time.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon turned out to be right as Harbaugh is heading to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
As Harbaugh's stock soared in recent weeks, Michigan's chances of landing the former Wolverines quarterback seemed to dwindle. Despite being the obvious choice to replace Rich Rodriguez, Harbaugh is staying in the Bay Area -- he won't have to move -- and coaching at the next level.
I'd be somewhat surprised if Michigan's search doesn't start to focus on LSU's Les Miles and San Diego State's Brady Hoke, but don't count out Brandon looking to the outside for a candidate.
A few other Big Ten notes before wrapping things up: