Clay Attributes Slow 40 Times To Over 35 Pound Weight Loss

Wisconsin running back John Clay claims to have lost over 35 pounds in a five week period in preparation for the NFL Draft.

MADISON--According to different sources, Wisconsin running back John Clay ran anywhere from a 4.77 to a 4.87 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago.

The discrepancy is primarily the result of second-hand sources and official times not provided by the NFL. But any way it's rationalized, it's very slow as far as NFL running backs go.

According to available results provided by NFL Draft Bible, Clay had the slowest 40 time and the shortest vertical jump among all running backs at the Combine.

At the University of Wisconsin's pro day workout on Wednesday, Clay said the poor performance had to do with dropping a significant amount of weight.

"Some people wouldn't understand that losing over 35 pounds in five weeks can really send a shock to your system, especially me as a running back, running constantly, not being able to adjust to my lower weight than I was at 250," said Clay.

Clay's claims of having lost more than 35 pounds almost borders on improbable. He said he weighed in at 233 pounds on Wednesday after checking in at 230 at the Combine.

He's listed as 248 pounds on his official University of Wisconsin bio, 255 on ESPN's bio, and rumors had him ballooning up to 260 as late as the Rose Bowl.

Even when assuming the highest estimate of 260, simple math shows 260 minus 35 is 225 pounds, still five pounds less than what he weighed in at the Combine.

Clay attributes the weight loss to his eating right.

"Just the diet," said Clay. "Not being able, especially in college, not being able to eat healthy foods and then also eating on a regular basis from class to practice to all different sorts of stuff going on as a college student. Having a steady diet and managing my food, being able to train around the clock really helped out."

Clay seemed to perform at least slightly better on Wednesday with hand-timed measurements checking in anywhere from 4.54 to 4.77.

The former Badgers running back thinks he's starting to become more accustomed to his new body.

"I think I am," said Clay. "I'm getting closer. I'm getting more comfortable at the weight. I'm so used to just playing playing heavy since I've been in college. Just playing at a lower weight, I can feel my explosion and my power and my speed increasing."

Certainly there's more to football than 40-yard dash times. Part of Clay's calling card is his ability to run with power.

"There's been some guys with slow 40 times that played pretty good football," said Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema. "There's a lot of guys that seem faster in pads and then they don't seem too fast with them on and vice versa. There's guys that seem slow without pads that seem pretty fast when they're on. My guess is John might in that last category."

Clay seemed somewhat bewildered by the pre-draft process of scouts, coaches and front office personnel scrutinizing every little measurement and time. He knows he'd be better able to showcase his skills if they were playing tackle football instead of a foot race.

"It's very different not being able to compete against someone, to really show off your skills," said Clay. "It really puts a damper on everything. Like my trainer always talked about, you're going against a clock and a measuring stick when you're doing these Combine tests.

"It's almost a lose, lose situation. But instead when we get out on the field, I'm able to put the pads on and show what kind of player you are and lot of things have changed."

Questions still linger whether Clay will make a good pro. Career stats of 629 carries for 3,413 yards with 41 touchdowns and an average over 5.4 yards per carry would seem to indicate he would.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson was in attendance on Wednesday and was asked if Clay was able to change perceptions after his slow 40 time at the Combine.

"I wouldn't presume to know what those perceptions are," said Thompson. "John Clay is a very good football player, and I think I'll leave it at that."

Does leaving it at that say all that needs to be said about Clay?

Where he goes in April's draft may answer that question.

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Comments (3)

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Mr. Big's picture

March 10, 2011 at 08:49 am

What was Clay's new 40 time?

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Brian Carriveau's picture

March 10, 2011 at 08:58 am

It says in the article. Hand timed measurements checked in anywhere from 4.54 to 4.77. There was no "official" time released by the UW.

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Josh's picture

March 10, 2011 at 11:27 am

40-yard dash is completely irrelevant. Emmitt Smith 4.7, Jerry Rice 4.65. Average of the draft speeds by skill players in the past few drafts is 4.6 according to Todd McShay. Feel free to investigate that average. It just doesn't matter. You won't ever see a guy running without pads on.

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