We are a few weeks into the college season and several freshman running backs have seen action and flashed what they are capable of including Jahymr Gibbs, Jo’Quavious Marks, Jaylan Knighton and Dillon Johnson.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite backs in the 2020 class, Ashaad Clayton, has been unable to play because the Pac-12 shutdown its season due to COVID-19. Thankfully, they reversed that decision and are set to start their season in the next few weeks, which means we get to see Clayton in action.
2020 was a phenomenal recruiting class with Bijan Robinson, Demarckus Bowman, Kendall Milton, Marshawn Lloyd and others leading the service (ex. 247Sports) rankings. I like a lot of backs in this class and it is very deep, but there were only four I had above Clayton (Robinson, Gibbs, Bowman, and Milton). Clayton has the size, speed, pass catching ability and production you look for in a top prospect that you expect to succeed at the next level. The only knock on Clayton was his knee injury in 2018, but I will dispel that myth in this article.
Clayton played football and ran track for Warren Easton HS in Louisiana, which is one of the top states to put out NFL-caliber talent. In the summer of 2018, Clayton stepped in a pothole on Easton’s practice field which tore ligaments in his knee. Instead of having surgery, he played the full 2018 football season and ran track in the spring before having surgery in May. During the season, he rushed 61 times for 683 and 9 touchdowns while adding 3 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. To put his performance in perspective, with a torn knee he accounted for 40% of the rushing production; 41% of the touchdowns; and 28% of offense, while missing two games. During the season he ran a laser 40 time of 4.42 and in track ran a 23.0 200 meters. Again, this was with a torn knee.
Clayton bails out his QB who is going down and turns a sure loss in to solid gain with short area quickness and vision.
The vision, jukes and quickness when needed with a torn knee.
Easton’s Ashaad Clayton doin work pic.twitter.com/GdY6RllEU3— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) September 28, 2018
Clayton with great vision and decsion to take it outside for nice gain. Again, 2018 with a torn ligament in his knee.
First play after Warren Easton’s big defensive stop…#LSU target Ashaad Clayton (@shaad210) is GONE — 🏃🏾♂️💨 — 96 yards to the house.— Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) November 2, 2018
And @wechsathletics leads, 14-13, on the XP pic.twitter.com/dFpuIybmJ3
Toward the end of the season on an injured knee he still sees the hole and no one is catching him.
Clayton shows everyone he is fully healthy and you aren’t going to catch him if he gets in the open field.
Clayton sees the block and runs for a touchdown in the championship game his senior year.
Ashaad Clayton capped an outstanding run at Easton with 211 yards + 3 TD in the 4A championship game— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) December 15, 2019
Coming off an offseason procedure on his knee, Shaad played his best ball at the right time of the season
Next up: #Colorado@shaad210 @jerryphillips30 @Rivals @GuerrieroCU pic.twitter.com/2JIWtUHLwh
Dominating effort against a great Edna Karr team.