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Clay declares for NFL Draft

Wisconsin running back John Clay will follow teammate J.J. Watt to the 2011 NFL Draft. 

The junior announced Friday he will forgo his senior season at Wisconsin and turn pro. 

"There are a lot of people that I would like to thank who have helped me along the way," Clay said in a statement. "I’d like to thank the great Wisconsin fans for supporting me throughout my time as a Badger. I’d also like to thank my family for helping me through this process.

"I want to thank my coaches for giving me the opportunity to come to Wisconsin and putting me in a position to showcase my talents. Also, thanks to my teammates for everything they have done to help me. Finally, I have to give glory to God for blessing me with this opportunity. This is the right decision for me at this time and I’m excited to start a new chapter."

Clay reportedly met with head coach Bret Bielema at Noon Friday to discuss his future.

"Since coming to Wisconsin, John has gone above and beyond all of our expectations both on and off the field," Bielema said in a statement. "His tremendous production on the field speaks for itself, but we are also proud of him as a teammate and the work he has done in the classroom and off the field. We support his decision and wish him luck."

Clay's talents speak for themselves, but this will not hurt the Badgers as much as Watt's departure. The Badgers boast two experienced running backs in Montee Ball and James White. Senior Zach Brown redshirted the 2010 season and will be available next season as will freshman Jeff Lewis who also redshirted. The Badgers also have a verbal commitment from talented Kenosha running back Melvin Gordon who will join the team in 2011.