Hilo’s Clay Earns Free Agent Contract with NFL’s Packers
Hilo High School graduate Charles Clay will finally get a chance to take everything in after a whirlwind week.
He wasn’t drafted nearly two weeks ago in the 2014 National Football League Draft, but received an invitation to attend the Green Bay Packers’ rookie minicamp. Before getting there, he had to finish up his last final exams before making the flight up to Wisconsin to pursue his NFL dream.
Now, he’ll get to stay in Green Bay for at least a little while. Clay signed a three-year contract with the Packers Saturday following the conclusion of rookie minicamp.
“It was after we were done with the last practice,” Clay said Monday. “They told me that they loved what I did and they were willing to, if I wanted to, bring me upstairs so I could sign a contract.”
Clay constantly talks about hard work, which can naturally occur in a family that operates a construction business. For the University of Hawai`i graduate, however, there’s an added reason for his drive and determination to reach the sport’s highest level.
Clay talked about growing up on the Big Island, not getting as many looks on the football field as kids from Oahu did. Not getting drafted surely added a little more to the chip already placed on his shoulder. “It’s always motivating, but I try not to hold grudges. I’ve been blessed with so many things in my life, so many great people and everything, it definitely motivates me.”
During the rookie minicamp, which ran from May 16-17, Clay not only worked to impress the team’s coaches and personnel, but also competed against other players for an opportunity to make the team. Only two other players, Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla and Miami defensive end Luther Robinson, received contracts from the team.
“They handed us a playbook. We had to do a bunch of, like, physical work, paperwork. Once that was over, it was just, like, focus,” Clay said. “On day one, they tried me out at cornerback. They kept it pretty simple with the plays and stuff. They more wanted to see your athletic ability.
“On the second day, they decided to try me at safety. I was running the plays at safety and I picked those up as well. I just tried to hustle, show them the way I play football.”
Clay transferred to the University of Hawai`i after two seasons at Southern Methodist University. In his senior season, Clay picked up 69 tackles, good for fourth on the team. He also had a sack, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
During the annual Hawai`i Pro Day, held this year on the campus of San Diego State University, Clay ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds, the fastest time of any of his teammates who ran the drill at the event.
Clay’s plans have changed a little bit now that he’s got a contract in hand from the Packers. Green Bay’s organized team activities, known to the football junkies as OTA’s, get underway next week, which means he won’t be going home for a while.
“They told me that I’m staying and I won’t be going home for another month or so, I think,” Clay said during a radio interview Monday. After the OTA’s and mandatory minicamp are completed, “I’ll fly back home for a month and I’ll train back at home, and then we come back for training camp.”
Training camp is scheduled to begin on July 26.