http://nola.com/sports/t-p/index.ssf?/sportsstory/lsufoot16.html LSU's Clayton shows moxie Freshman delivers in clutch for LSU 10/16/01 By Wright Thompson Staff writer/The Times-Picayune BATON ROUGE -- Yes, Michael Clayton would be available to the media. After all, the freshman wide receiver had just caught a team-high nine passes against Kentucky, including the game winner with 13 seconds left. Ah, but the rub: he's only a freshman, and Nick Saban doesn't let freshmen speak to reporters. Something about maturity or the lack thereof. But on a special occasion, if a freshman does something totally unfreshman-like, Saban will make an exception. Saturday was such an occasion. Meet Michael Clayton, who's already so scary-good as a rookie that people around Baton Rouge are giddy about the prospect of him. In five games, he has caught 20 passes for 315 yards. That's good enough for second on the team. "Michael Clayton has come up big for us and gets better and better every week," Saban said. So, after the Kentucky game, one in which Clayton caught two touchdown passes, he came out to give interviews. And guess what? Not only does he play like a veteran, he talks like one, too. Someone asked what would have happened had he not made that catch, and LSU had lost. "You have to have confidence in the team, or you won't ever get it done on the field," Clayton said. "This was a make-or-break game for us and possibly the hardest of the season for us, since we have been off a few weeks. It was such a good thing for us to win this game, because it would have been hard to get back on our feet if we had lost." Clayton, a native of Baton Rouge, spent the summer with other industrious freshmen, including center Ben Wilkerson. (Wilkerson started last week and is also making a major contribution.) Standout receiver Josh Reed said Clayton's work over the summer is a big part of his current success. When summer camp started, it took only two or three days before Saban realized that Clayton was a playmaker and would make major contributions. Receiver seemed the best place to use him. "There are some positions that are easier to play than others," Saban said. "As a freshman, receiver is probably the easiest to play. Michael is a very mature guy, stays focused, doesn't get too distracted by a lot of the things that are going on around him. As I often say, freshmen play or don't play based on their maturity and not their ability." Problem was, Clayton was good at more than one position. "He's a great defensive back, too," Saban said. "Too bad y'all can't see him play that. He can only play one position at a time right now. We put him on offense, because that's where we thought he'd have the most impact." His impact was felt full-on for the first time Saturday. He had caught five passes before LSU got the ball late in the game, 80 yards away, down by three. During the Tigers' game-winning drive, Clayton caught four passes. Three came on third down. No third down, however, was bigger than the last one. On third-and-goal from the 6, Davey hit Clayton on a slant for the winning touchdown. "I knew I had to make a catch," Clayton said. "It was some heavy stuff for me. Coach told me that I just had to relax and try to make the play. We knew what to do, and we all got it done out there."