GREENSBORO, N.C. | He is the forgotten man in South Carolina’s 2012 recruiting class.
Yet, Western Guilford (N.C.) center Clayton Stadnik is intent on proving this season that he’s more valuable than just the ends to another means. The other means, of course, was the commitment of his non-identical twin Brock, who is widely hailed as one of the nation’s best offensive tackle prospects.
They were a package deal, and some schools were willing to take them both if it meant landing their potential left tackle of the future. Of USC’s 18 commitments, only Chapin offensive tackle Mason Zandi is rated lower than Clayton, and that’s misleading because Zandi hasn’t played offense in his prep career.
Stadnik, you see, is an underdog, a role he fulfills with some amount of pride. Still, that doesn’t mean he is not intent on changing the status quo.
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“Definitely I have something to prove,” he said. “It’s all about how I’m smaller than everyone else. I think I proved [myself] on my highlight tape, taking guys bigger than me and driving them downfield, but this year is going to be a lot different. I’m going to be dominating people left and right, being quick off the ball and getting to the linebackers and safeties and putting them down.”
Now playing at 6-2, 275 pounds, Stadnik looks much more like a Division I offensive lineman. He grew an inch and added 35 pounds of muscle this offseason, helping him become a player capable of holding his own in the trenches with more than just technique.
Taking the advice of his father, who played in the NFL, and several other athletic advisors, Stadnik built an offseason training plan that would allow him to get stronger while also increasing his speed and quickness. He believes that he’s well prepared to tackle the full-time transition to his college position.
The Stadnik twins lined up beside each other at left tackle and guard for much of the 2010 season, but Clayton eventually moved to center late in the year. Initially he was a fish out of water, struggling to comprehend the added responsibilities, including calling all the blocking audibles, that the position entailed.
However, he worked hard to better understand his role this offseason, a sign that he’s willing to put in the necessary work to better himself. He’ll play center for the Gamecocks.
“We knew that’s where Clayton would be long term, even though he’s played all up and down the line,” Western Guilford coach Chris Causey said. “He’ll make all our line calls. He’s taken on a tremendous leadership role there. He’s got a great understanding of the fronts and what we want to do.
“I feel great about our center. I think Clayton might be the best center in the state of North Carolina.”