Clay Thistlethwaite has been working on becoming the best football player he could be since he was in the sixth grade. He’s put in the hours of practice, he’s put in the long afternoons in the weight room, and he’s run mile after mile, after mile.
All that hard work has finally paid off for the Glasgow High School senior. During ceremonies recently at the high school, Thistlethwaite signed a national letter of intent to play football next year at Sewanee (Tenn.), commonly known as The University of the South.
“There is not really much I can say to describe the feeling (of signing a college scholarship) since I’ve been thinking about doing it since I was in sixth grade,” Thistlethwaite said. “It’s kind of unexplainable. It is something I’ve always imagined doing, but when you’re there, it is such a rush.”
Thistlethwaite said the selection of Sewanee wasn’t really that difficult of a decision. He said there were other schools in the running, but he had his mind made up.
“I was very decisive about the school I wanted to go to. I wanted to be at a smaller, more academic school. I thought that would be the place where I could thrive,” Thistlethwaite explained. “I also wanted wherever I went to have a very good football program I could grow into.
“By the time I was entering my senior year, it came down to the fact that I thought I would do better at a smaller school. But there were still several schools out there that were contacting me. It was all very exciting to me. I considered The Citadel, Centre College and Washington and Lee. At Sewanee, the school is incredibly beautiful. The environment was very easygoing and personable.”
Thistlethwaite will be stepping into a program looking for help. The Sewanee Tigers finished the 2013 football season with a 4-6 record and a 3-3 mark in the Southern Athletic Association.
“Clay’s got such a great frame, He’s long, he’s athletic and he’s only going to get stronger,” said Glasgow coach Rick Wood. “Clay has been a tremendous defensive player over the last two years here. He’s gotten better and better and he was a tremendous blocking tight end for us. He’s one of those kids that’s young right now, but you’re going to look around here in a couple of years and he’s going to be a big athletic kid. His best football is definitely ahead of him.
“He’s a tremendous student, a tremendous kid in the community and he’s what we want our kids to be like. When they come to play football here, we tell the kids you’re going to act right in school, you’re going to act right in the community and you’re going to act right around us. Clay is tremendous in all three of those areas.”
Thistlethwaite played a big role with the Scotties during his career. While he wore the Blue and White, Glasgow finished 42-9 with four district titles, a region title, a regional runner-up title, a semi-state title, a 2A state runner-up title, four T.J. Samson Bowl wins and a Bob Allen Pigskin Classic championship.
Thistlethwaite said the Sewanee coaches spoke to him about playing outside linebacker for the Tigers, along with time on special teams. That’s just fine with him as he now begins to get physically and mentally ready to play college football.
“I think every player that’s coming out planning to play college ball, they always need to think about how they can improve themselves. For me, I am thinking about how I can get bigger, faster stronger,” Thistlethwaite explained. “I need to be spending time in the weight room. I probably need to gain a little weight. But I feel pretty confident and whatever improvements I need to make (to excel in college) I won’t have any problem making them.”
Thistlethwaite said he wanted to make sure he thanked his family, his teammates through the years and his football coaches at Glasgow High School for helping him reach this lofty goal.
“Hunter Bowles is still at the University of Louisville. Lajuan Smith is still at Eastern Kentucky and Jalen Sublett is still at Lindsey Wilson,” Wood explained. “It is one of those things where a lot of people get the opportunity to go play football in college. The real test is who finishes it. Who goes and plays college football for four or five years. And, the ultimate payoff is getting that college education.”
“Clay has a really good work ethic. He is easily coached and he follows instructions,” said John Southall, Thistlethwaite’s position coach with the Scotties. “He has a great frame for these coaches to build on. They will put the weight on him. Clay plays hard and I believe he could go and do some really good things at the next level. I would advise him to go enjoy the game and have fun playing it. I think he will do well.”