TUPELO – Reed Clayton will get to wear the Mississippi State uniform on game days, but his most important work will come when only his coaches and teammates are watching.
Clayton, a two-year starter at point guard for Tupelo High, is joining the Bulldogs as a walk-on this summer. He’s already been at MSU for a year, and coach Rick Stansbury now has a spot for him.
After his senior year at Tupelo, Clayton was planning to attend either Mississippi College or Rhodes College in Memphis. Then he heard that MSU would have a walk-on spot come available after Brandon Bolen’s senior year, so Clayton spoke with Stansbury, who told him to stay in shape and check back.
Last week, Stansbury gave Clayton the spot.
“It was like a dream come true,” Clayton said. “I’ve been worshipping the man and Mississippi State my whole life.”
Clayton knows what he’s getting into, which is why he sought the advice of Dennis Buse, a former MSU walk-on who played for the Bulldogs from 2002-04.
“He told me it’s a grind every day,” Clayton said. “When you walk out of there, you’re not going to be able to walk.”
Buse also played at Tupelo and has watched plenty of Clayton’s games. He thinks the 5-foot-10, 145-pounder has what it takes to be a part of what Stansbury calls the Gold Squad, a.k.a. the scout team.
“It’s a lot about taking orders and following instructions and just having the heart and soul to be able to go out and compete with those guys every day,” said Buse, “knowing that they’re going to be taller and faster and stronger with all of those talents that they’ll have that you might not have.”
That’s pretty much the message Stansbury sent.
“He says he doesn’t want somebody that just wants to be on the team, he wants somebody that will make the team better,” Clayton said. “He said he values the gold squad almost as much as the scholarship players. We’re going to help the team by working hard and making everybody else get better.”
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal