Wide receiver is off to a breakout season on football field
By Greg Bates
Special to Midwest Collegiate Prospects
As Auburn (Alabama) wide receiver Bryson Clague lined up in the slot, starring him right in the face was safety Jarell Stinson.
The standout at Opelika (Alabama) has received offers from a number of SEC and ACC schools. Squaring off against Stinson presented a challenge for Clague – and he loves challenges.
Clague, who is getting looks from smaller FCS schools, went off for eight catches for 125 yards to help his team to a 37-10 victory over its rivals on Aug. 28. He had seven receptions for 104 yards in the first half before his coach called off the dogs.
Clague certainly upped his game against one of the top cover safeties in the state.
“It makes me want to get them even more to prove that I can play at that next level because they have those offers, just so I can prove that I can get those offers, too,” Clague said. “ That was good for me to play harder and against competition like that.”
Clague has had an impressive start to the season. In his first two games, he has 11 receptions for 177 yards. That’s even during limited action because his team has two blowout wins.
The senior has really improved his game from last season when he was in his first year with the Auburn program after moving from Grafton, Wisconsin. As a junior, Clague had 24 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s always been a confident player, but I think right now he’s getting more opportunities to be part of a game,” Auburn High School football coach Adam Winegarden said. “Anytime you go to a new program, there’s a bit of a curve as far as adapting to newness. And not just that, but the level of competition here.”
Winegarden calls Clague a dynamic player who runs incredible routes and has tremendous ball skills. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Clague has great size to match up against smaller defensive backs.
“Really, when the ball’s around him, he’s probably going to make a play on it,” Winegarden said. “He’s got leaping ability, and I really think he’s a next-level player.”
Clague is in his fourth season playing at the varsity level. As a freshman at Grafton, Clague was moved up from junior varsity and following an injury got to start at free safety the final four games of the season. The next year, he became an all-conference player, starting at safety and wide receiver.
Now as Auburn’s top receiver in its high-powered offense, Clague has changed his game since his early years in high school.
“When I was in Grafton, I was kind of like the deep guy and I would catch a lot of deep balls, go routes, posts, anything like that,” Clague said. “Then once I got here, my role kind of switched. I’m more of a possession guy now, so I play slot and sometimes they move me outside for certain plays. We’ve got a lot of speed, so those guys are on the outside and I kind of compliment them on the inside with sure hands and being able to catch the ball and run good routes.”
Clague sees his game resembling that of Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen.
The best part of Clague’s game?
“His ball skills,” Winegarden said. “He can really go up and make acrobatic catches and catch the ball at any point.”
Clague knows how important this football season is for recruiting. He’s already behind the eight-ball since he moved to Auburn right before his junior season. This year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he also didn’t have spring practice to show off his abilities.
“He missed on that time frame where a lot of people would have been able to see him in person,” Winegarden said. “For him, it’s going to come down to senior year and his film and getting that to people and have people see him play.”
Clague has made one college visit thus far, to Samford University, prior to the pandemic shutting down recruiting. He’s also received plenty of interest from FCS schools Wofford, Murray State and West Florida. The latter two programs are also recruiting Clague as a basketball player.
Clague isn’t sure exactly sure if he’ll pursue football or basketball at the next level, but he’s leaning toward basketball.
“I think he’s going to go whatever his heart is led to,” Winegarden said. “We fully support him in whatever he decides to do. He’s a great kid who loves to compete.”
Clague plans on making his decision following the football season, so he has a little time to evaluate his options.
“I definitely think it’s going to be easier to make a decision after the football season when I can see what that’s done for me from a recruiting standpoint,” Clague said. “It will be easier going into basketball to make a decision about what I want to do.”