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September 12, 2013

After biding his time, Clay’s patience is being rewarded

NORMAN — In one sense, Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay is alone for the first time. In another, he’s the most comfortable he’s ever been on a football field.

The unaccompanied feeling comes from Clay being the last member of the famed “Cali Trio” still stalking Owen Field. Clay, along with former safety Tony Jefferson and wide receiver Kenny Stills, were all part of OU’s 2010 recruiting class. All three hailed from the San Diego area and the threesome made a quick impact.

Jefferson and Stills were three-season mainstays who chose early exits for the NFL. Perhaps, Clay didn’t have the same option. His first three seasons were a slow and steady climb into becoming a mainstay in the Sooner backfield.

Nonetheless, he’s peaking at the right time.

“I love my boys. I miss them to death. But it’s going to be a good year,” Clay said.

It certainly has been thus far. The running backs have become the focal point of the 14th-ranked Sooners’ offense. Clay’s been the main beneficiary, rushing for 213 yards and averaging 7.1 yards per carry in the first two games.

Clay’s production has been one of the positive surprises of a Sooner offense that’s been a mystery in the season’s first two games.

OU hasn’t struggled to throw the ball like this is years. Then again, because of Clay and backfield mate Damien Williams, it’s piling up rushing yards like it’s 1985.

“He's done some positive things with some pace, letting his blockers get ahead of them and setting those guys up in the zone scheme,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of Clay. “But we've blocked it pretty well, too. It's a combination of all those things.”

The combination OU has found might be one that finally fits Clay.

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