E.A. Sports Today

Dress rehearsal?

Oxford OL Webb gets glimpse of Signing Day hoopla during the presentation of his ceremonial UA All-American Game jersey

Oxford lineman Clay Webb (C) visits with the presentation team before receiving his ceremonial jersey for the 2019 Under Armour All-America Game.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Clay Webb really isn’t big on speaking in front of crowds, but there he was Wednesday, holding a microphone after receiving his ceremonial jersey for the Under Armour All-America Game in front of his teammates, the cheerleaders and the band.

It was an event that celebrated the Oxford lineman’s well-established rep as one of the top high school football prospects in the country.

Lineman Clay Webb (R) and Oxford coach Ryan Herring share a little fun while modeling helmets for the Under Armour All-America Game. Webb is the fourth Yellow Jacket to be selected for the game.

It could just as easily have been a dress rehearsal for his signing announcement in mid-December, a happening that’s expected to be accompanied by even more hoopla.

“It’s just crazy,” he said. “We’re like at Oxford it’s just one big family, we’re all there for each other and support each other.

“I think (December’s atmosphere) is going to be pretty big. Everybody’s going to be here. I’ve invited everyone from the school so they can be here to support me if they want to. I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty big thing.”

Webb has kept recruiting watchers on the edge of their seats as he remains uncommitted to a college choice. The leading candidates are Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Clemson, which he’ll visit this weekend after the ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets play at Gardendale for third place in their overloaded region.

No hints on his pick still, consistent with his approach of playing this recruiting stuff close to the vest. He’s not getting roped into playing this game on social media and, frankly, he’s not even sure how he’s going to spring the announcement of his choice when he makes it.

“I might do a video, I might just go out there and say I committed to whatever school,” he said. “It’s going to be crazy, no matter what I try to do. … I guess I just have to man-up and deal with it because I know it’s going to be kind of an aspect of my life from now on.”

But among the takeaways from Wednesday’s conversation are the football element at each of his four schools are about the same in his mind and “not really a factor” in his decision. It’s more likely to come down to where he’ll feel most comfortable.

He’s also concerned about the potential of movement among coaches he’s developed relationships with throughout the recruiting process that basically began when he played his first varsity game at Gadsden City as a wide-eyed eighth grader thrown into the mix to replace an injured teammate.

Here’s a thumbnail look at what Webb thinks of each choice:

Auburn: A pretty cool family atmosphere. “I like Auburn because it’s like a family atmosphere, so whenever I go down there I know a lot of the players and they all know me and talking to them and hanging out is pretty fun. And to see the games and the atmosphere is pretty cool.”

Alabama: Coach him up. “If I went there I’ll get coached really good. I’d have a chance to get even better, like really, really, really be coached by good, hard-working program that’ll change me.”

Clemson: Great atmosphere. “I love the atmosphere. It’s absolutely the best I’ve ever seen at all the games. When I went to their game the first time, we got there and we had to yell to talk to the person besides us because everybody was yelling at the same time. It was pretty cool.”

Georgia: Top-notch assistant. “I love (offensive line coach Sam) Pittman; he’s probably the best coach. I just love his personality, his demeanor, everything about him is just top notch.”

Webb is the fourth Oxford player in the Under Armour Game, joining lineman Michael Flint, linebacker Kwon Alexander and running back Roc Thomas. Alexander and Thomas are currently in the NFL. The game has produced 50 first-round draft picks over the past seven years.

Here’s another tidbit: Webb plans to wrestle this season until he starts attending the college of his choice immediately after signing, so he won’t be able to wrestle in the state championship if the Jackets get that far under new coach Kyle Routon.

The Under Armour All-America Game is Jan. 3 in Orlando.

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