Former Bucs WR Michael Clayton takes 'bucket list' job at Plant City HS

Clayton lead the Raiders into a new era
Former Bucs WR Michael Clayton takes bucket list job at Plant City HS.png
Posted at 12:05 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 17:00:52-04

PLANT CITY, Fla. — There’s a trend going on around Tampa Bay area high schools — they’re hiring former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers as head coaches.

“People just love receivers, bottom line,” Michael Clayton said. “More so, this is a wonderful community to live in. Once you’ve given it your all here on the field in Tampa Bay it’s kind of hard to be removed from the atmosphere.”

Wharton High School has Mike Williams, Gibbs High has Louis Murphy, and Manatee High has Jacquez Green.

The newest former Bucs pass catcher to become a high school head coach is Clayton at Plant City.

“I always wanted to be a head coach,” Clayton told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “This was something else on my bucket list simply because through my experience, I have all of the treasures and all of the knowledge that a young athlete would want to make it to the next level.”

Clayton played nine seasons in the NFL (six with the Bucs), even winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. He also won a college football national championship under head coach Nick Saban at LSU.

“I take it all. Being part of Coach Saban, we call ourselves the blueprint,” he said. “We were his first national championship at LSU. We have a saying here, we say it all the time they now put it on t-shirts, that ‘we will not deviate.’ That means everything that I have lived, everything that I have experienced from high school to college to pro. I take them through the same things.”

He wants to bring the “process,” as Saban would say to Plant City, and make the Raiders one of the county's top programs yet again.

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“It’s not a change in culture, but a change in standard,” senior linebacker Cole Highsmith said. “The standard and expectations is more, and unites us as a brotherhood and team.”

“He definitely brings out the positive and good mindset to the program,” running back Dom Jones added. “I look forward to coming to practice to get his energy.”

The Raiders are coming off a 6-5 season but bring back a talented core of players and some emerging freshman stars like defensive tackle Te’Marce Miller.

“It doesn’t matter how big he is; I don’t think nobody can block me,” Miller said. “Me, myself, I’m just a dog. I can get passed anybody in front of me. Ain’t nobody can stop me right now.”

“When he put on the pads, he is one of the players that pop off on the screen every single play,” Clayton said of Miller. “When you have that as a freshman, I’m telling you, we have something special brewing here at Plant City.”

The new head coach has also upgraded the locker room with field turf replacing a hard floor.

“It feels like home,” Miller said. “Everything we do in that locker room is home. Get your stress out, like you floating on the cloud.”

And home has rules, like don’t step on the logo, which I accidentally violated during my visit.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, male or female, if you step on the logo in our locker room, you’re going to drop down and give us 25 (push-ups),” Clayton said. “You’re now welcomed into the family, and we love you for that.”