Recruiting: Q&A with 2016 Florida Gators DE signee Antonneous Clayton

Let’s get to know another member of the Gators’ 2016 class.

Antonneous Clayton (Photo from Scout.com)

Antonneous Clayton (Photo from Scout.com)

We got the chance to sit down with Dooly County (Ga.) defensive end Antonneous Clayton. He talked about his decision to sign with the Gators and how he believes he will be used as a freshman this upcoming season.

(Watch Vosean Joseph’s Hudl tape)

(Recruiting: Q&A with 2016 Florida Gators LB signee Vosean Joseph)

(Related: Florida Gators: A closer look at 2016 recruiting class)

Here’s our Q&A with Antonneous Clayton …

Question: What have you been doing since the end of football season to stay in shape?

Answer: “Well, I got back with my personal trainer, so we’ve been working on legs, upper body, cardio — just the same routine every week.”

Q: When do you plan to enroll at Florida?

A: “Late May.”

Q: Have you put on weight this offseason?

A: “I put on a couple pounds. I’m at 236 pounds. I ended football season at 210.”

Q: Do you think you’re ready to play for the Gators as a true freshman this upcoming season?

A: “I think I’m ready mentally and physically to play my freshman year. I can say I’m not an every down player, I’m kind of more of a third down player my freshman year. Or they can just use me as an outside linebacker guy coming off the edge who can cover receivers because of my weight during my freshman year. But I think along the way in my sophomore year, I can be a great defensive end if I put on the weight.”

Q: You feel comfortable in coverage?

A: “I feel very comfortable in coverage actually. I did really good in 7-on-7 this summer and it’s not really hard to cover receivers, in my opinion.”

Q: With the added weight, do you still feel like you’ve been able to keep most of your athleticism?

A: “I feel more confident now with my added weight than I did back then. When I was 210 pounds, I was more of like the speed guy. My confidence was up then but not as up as it is now with this extra 20 pounds. I’ve got a little bit of strength on me and I still got my same speed and my same first step so I’ll be able to manage my freshman year.”

Q: What is your goal weight?

A: “Last time I talked to [Gators coaches], they wanted me to get up to at least 245 or 250 pounds.”

Q: Why do you feel like you went under the radar for most of the recruiting process?

A: “It was hard during my recruiting process because guys didn’t want to take the chance on me. I had a lot of doubters along the way. I’m not going to call any names, but I had a couple of doubters saying that I’m going to get pushed around and I’m going to get bullied and I’m going to get redshirted. But when the Under Armour game came through, I told myself that I need to go out there and do what I need to do — no chit chat, no nothing. I think during the week for the Under Armour game in practice, I got the top performer like two days in a row. I really performed well during my week down there and I really made a name for myself.”

Q: How good did that feel to perform so well during the Under Armour week?

A: “It was really satisfying. When I went down to Orlando, nobody knew I was really that good. I kind of got into a little trouble because I kept sacking the quarterback in practice and the player in front of me said I shouldn’t go full speed. I was like, ‘You might not want to go full speed, but I’m here to prove something.'”

Q: How much did it mean to get an offer from Florida when you weren’t a big-time recruit yet?

A: At first, I was kind of like eh. Yeah, they offered me, but once I got to learn the tradition there, watched a couple videos, got to know the coaches more during my recruiting process, I knew I wanted to go to Florida. I didn’t want to take any other visits, I didn’t want to do anything else, I knew I was going to Florida.”

Q: It sounds like you were hesitant at first when it came to Florida, was there another school you had your eye on?

A: “See the thing about that is that I didn’t start playing football until my eighth grade year. I never even watched football.”

Q: Which college or NFL linebacker do you compare your game to?

A: “I really like Dante Fowler a lot from Florida. But he’s 261 pounds, I’m 230 pounds. But I really like (Falcons DE) Vic Beasley. In college, he was like 235 and he showed up to the combine around 245. So he was kind of at that weight I’m at in college and we have a fast first step and we know how to use our hands a little bit. If it’s anyone, I really compare myself to Vic Beasley because of our weight and our playing style.”

Q: You were pretty vocal during the recruiting process, trying to get other players to commit to Florida. What was your message to them?

A: “I just want to see the team do good. Before McElwain got there, the program was going downhill. But I mean when you look at the tradition at Florida — Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow — we can really bring the program back to life. That’s what I’m telling these guys. We have the opportunity to turn this thing around. Look at what the Gators did this year. They won 10 games, SEC East champs all in one year. That’s just one year. We can build on that.”

Q: Which player in Florida’s 2016 recruiting class are you closest to?

A: “I’m closest with (Mount Dora OL) Brett Heggie. We were roommates at the Under Armour game, so we got a chance to bond a little bit. He’s kind of that big brother figure. He kind of looks out for me. We were waking each other up during the week, that type of relationship. I think I can expect that from a lot of guys in Gainesville, looking out after each other.”

Q: Were you disappointed 2016 DE Brian Burns picked Florida State over Florida?

A: “I wasn’t surprised at all, but I would have loved for him to come to Florida. (Defensive line coach) Chris Rumph told us we were both going to play, but our roles were different. Me and Brian Burns would have played the BUCK position, an outside linebacker who moved along the defensive line. So when I got tired or when he got tired, we would have just rotated. So as far as Brian Burns, good luck to him and his career.”

Q: What’s something outsiders would be surprised to learn about you?

A: “I just love playing video games. That’s the main thing I love to do. I play video games almost every day like almost every minute of the day. If it’s not football, it’s either working out or video games. I mostly play Call of Duty and a little bit of Madden.”