Pushing Through with Senior Guard Ryan Clanton
Another in a series from our friends at Mighty Oregon. An interview with senior offensive guard, Ryan Clanton.
By Dusty Ritter
Ryan Clanton puts in an audacious amount of work on Oregon’s offensive line. His 450-pound bench press not only leads, but inspires his offensive peers. It should come as no surprise that he worked his way up to get where he is today — starting left guard for the Ducks. Listed as 6-5 and 300 lbs. in the Oregon media guide, he says “I’m actually a nice guy.” Many remain unconvinced.
Clanton hails from Bakersfield, California, where he played high school football for the Bakersfield Christian Eagles, CIF Central Section Division V state champs for 2007. Clanton was heavily recruited by Fresno State out of high school and initially signed with them, but instead he attended City College of San Francisco, which produced Oregon standouts Jeremiah Masoli, Blake Ferras, and Matthew Harper.
Clanton was the seventh ranked JUCO offensive tackle in the nation in 2010 and considered a four star recruit by many scouting services. His resume includes Junior College All-American honors in 2009.
He appeared in eleven games in 2011, including a season-high 48 snaps against Oregon State. This year his intelligent read of the Oregon playbook, work ethic, study of the game and impressive strength led to his starting at offensive guard.
Q and A with Ryan:
MO: What was your first love in sports, and how did high school football go for you?
RC: (My) first love in sports was just being able to take out my aggression on a defensive player in football. That was my favorite thing to do. There’s no other sport where you can physically pound someone into the ground and not get in trouble for it.
MO: How would you describe your career at Oregon so far?
RC: I’ve been really blessed and I’m fortunate to be here. I’ve really enjoyed my time and have worked hard.
MO: What’s it like to be a regular starter?
RC: In 2011, I rotated in and there wasn’t as much pressure; it’s not like you’re the guy. This year I have Mana Greig that rotates with me, and he’s really an awesome player, so there’s no drop-off at all when the starters hand it over to the second string. They’re not even second string guys. We all rotate, so we really have nine or ten starters.
RC: It was tough. My redshirt year I was totally confused. As a JUCO guy you kind of get thrown in with the mix. I was with the twos in practice, just going, and didn’t know right from left. Then it took me another year playing with Darrion Weems last season, and really trying to understand the scheme. Finally this year, physically I was ready and my mindset was ready. So I worked very hard and I feel like I know everything about the playbook now.
MO: How’s Steve Greatwood as a coach?
RC: He’s a great coach. If you show respect he shows it back. You need criticism and he’ll give it to you. It’s from experience also it’s not like he was just a high school player; he played and coached in the NFL. So it’s an honor to be coached by him, and he knows what he’s doing.
MO: When you’re at the line of scrimmage — what are you looking for, thinking, and what are your responsibilities?
RC: For the blitz mostly. That’s why I stay in the two-point stance, me and Tyler (Johnstone) work well together. I’m thinking about the personnel in front of me, because after watching film all week I can guess his favorite move. It’s kind of a blur, yet really cool once you understand what you’re doing.
MO: Speaking of blur, are you comfortable with the fast pace of the offense?
RC: I’ve never really ran as fast as we do here. In high school we ran kind of a spread, but we huddled. In JUCO, at City College of San Francisco there was a spread offense. But here, when we say “no huddle”, it means get on the ball before the defense is even lining up. It’s more than a no huddle. It’s faster than that.
MO: Have you ever heard any comments from opponents about that pace?
RC: Oh yeah, guys have talked about throwing up on themselves if we ran another play. That was against Tennessee. So it’s pretty common, but it’s not like everyone isn’t tired, it’s a football game. We just know how to push through it, and coach Kelly does a good job with our fast pace. It’s almost like the referees slow it down for us, and we’re ready for whatever pace we’re on.
MO: What has your personal highlight been so far and what game was it in?
RC: Probably beating Fresno State. That was my hometown school and Derek Carr is my friend. The whole time I was training in Bakersfield this off-season all I heard about was Fresno State. When we won and I was out on the field I went up to Derek and said better luck next week. He was angry and definitely took it out on Colorado the next week (laughs).
MO: Are you happy with how your career started here and where you are now?
RC: Yeah I don’t think I would have it any other way. I think this place has really pushed me to be the best role-player I can be. There’s no other program that would have done that for me. I’m very fortunate and lucky to be here.
MO: Other than football, what do you do for fun?
RC: I love to surf. I like to go shooting; skeet and trap shooting. Fishing, love that, I’m kind of an outdoorsman. I guess you could say redneck, but I like to do that sort of stuff and hang out with my roommates.
MO: Anything people might be surprised to know about you?
RC: Even though I have a large tattooed body and I look angry all of the time because I can’t see, I’m actually a nice guy (laughs).
Coach Steve Greatwood’s comments on Ryan:
MO: How has Ryan developed in his time with Oregon?
SG: Very well. As a junior college transfer, I think his first year was spent just getting assimilated to our verbiage and techniques. So I think it was a good decision to redshirt him. Last year he played a real key role as kind of a swing guy at both tackle and guard. He has been real comfortable with the offense, and this year has been solid at left guard for us.
MO: How would you describe Ryan as a person and a player?
SG: A plus as a person, and I’d give him solid A’s as a player. He’s the kind of guy you want in your program. He’s accountable, where he’s supposed to be, and you know you’re gonna get his best effort out of him everyday.
Mighty Oregon Reporter Dusty Ritter has been a Duck fan since he was ten years old, and started writing at a local newspaper when he was only fifteen. His favorite Duck football moment was in 2003 vs. Cal when the lights went out at Autzen stadium with Oregon behind, but the Ducks beat Aaron Rodgers and crew in a dramatic comeback fashion. Now, age 21, he attends Oregon games and plans on studying journalism at the U of O.
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