Utah wide receiver/kick returner Kaelin Clay has been officially invited to the 2015 NFL Combine. Clay announced the invite on his Twitter account, acknowledging his good fortune.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>God is good man...just received my invitation to the 2015 NFL Combine <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Blessed?src=hash">#Blessed</a> </p>— Kaelin Clay (@CALiboy4) <a href="https://twitter.com/CALiboy4/status/552162308747968515">January 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The one-year Utes wide out finished the 2014 season with 43 catches for 523 yards receiving. He also caught four touchdowns on the year and, after the injuries to senior wide receiver Dres Anderson and freshman Tim Patrick, as well as nagging nicks and bruises to junior Kenneth Scott, was the only deep threat on the ball club. Clay ended the year averaging 12.2 yards per catch.
But receiving duties were only part of his game, of course. Clay was also the team's main kick returner, and he logged a return touchdown for both punts and kickoffs. The California native recorded 23 punts for 346 yards and three touchdowns, as well as returned 22 kickoffs for 548 yards and a 100-yard touchdown. (No other Utes returner notched more than three punts or kickoffs this season.)
Clay was also an Internet celebrity for about a week or more after the Oregon game in Salt Lake City in which he dropped a crucial first quarter touchdown one yard short of the endzone.
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But Clay owned the mistake and vowed to never again suffer from premature celebration. And he didn't, handing the ball to the referee after each subsequent touchdown.
"I know how important points are, especially against a team like this," Clay said after the Oregon gaffe. "I take full responsibility for what happened tonight. I will take the criticism and the blame. It was just one of those things. I got excited and let the moment just get away from me. Again, I take full responsibility for this."
While he didn't catch a TD in Utah's 45-10 dismantling of Colorado State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, he was part of one of the most exciting plays of the game. On Utah's first series, quarterback Travis Wilson handed the ball on the left sweep, which was subsequently flipped to reserve QB Jason Thompson who then threw the ball across the field to Wilson who again threw the ball down field to Clay for a 36-yard gain. Wilson had to get rid of the ball quickly and under threw the pass, or Clay would have scored.
Now, he seeks to make money off his skills, and the first stop on that journey is the 2015 NFL Combine. Clay has the speed, the hands, the moxy, and the elusiveness to be a next-level wide receiver or returner. Given that NFL star receiver Steve Smith began his career as a returner turned pass catcher, Clay is in good company. Best of luck to Clay on his 40 time, which may be the determining factor in his NFL Draft selection.