Junior quarterback eager to return after injury last season From a fifth string walk-on to a starting quarterback to the bench with an injury, Omar Clayton has been through it all. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Clayton joined the Rebels from Normal, Ill. as a walk on. He played his way into a starting role by week eight of the 2007 season.
In Clayton’s first game, he became the first player in UNLV history to exceed 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game, something even the legendary Randall Cunningham was never able to do. Last season, Clayton won the competition battle with Travis Dixon, who was moved to safety.
The former walk-on put together a tremendous season throwing 1,894 yards with 18 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Clayton’s first interception didn’t come until his 173rd attempt and he finished the season with a school record of a .0155 interception percentage. But things didn’t go as planned late in the season, as Clayton got injured.
Back-up quarterback Mike Clausen finished out the rest of the season. As the Rebels headed into off-season workouts, Clayton was poised to show he was ready to return to form. Coach Sanford said of Clayton,
"The winter conditioning is when he came back from the knee injury and we knew he was 100 percent." Clayton will be surrounded by UNLV’s most talented offense in some time.
"I’m very excited about the depth at wide receiver this year," Clayton said. "Not only the depth but the skill level across the board with these guys."
One receiver of note is starter Ryan Wolfe. Wolfe is a First Team MWC Wide Receiver but the Rebels will need other contributors in big-play Phillip Payne, 6-foot-5 Rodelin Anthony, speedy Michael Johnson and Jerriman Robinson to be successful.
"Obviously we have to utilize Ryan Wolfe and spread the ball around," Sanford said. In coach Sanford’s spread offense, Clayton is a dual threat quarterback: He is able to run and pass effectively, giving the Rebels two dimensions to be successful. "In the offense that we run, it’s part of my job to run the ball and pick up positive yards," Clayton said. "I welcome that with open arms." Sanford loves Clayton’s enthusiasm and style of play but noted Clayton needs to "not take all the hits that running backs take."
"He has to find a way to get down or out of bounds," Sanford said. The Rebels have looked good this offseason and will try to make it above the .500 mark for the first time since 2000.