By Kevin Eickman
The Milford 12th Man Gridiron Club has announced their inductees for the the class of 2016 . This year’s class will include Chris Drummond, Bill Strickland, Jason Pollock and Clay Turner. This week the focus will turn to 1989 Milford graduate Clay Turner.
Football players are measured from the first day they put on a uniform for the first time. How fast are they, how strong are they how big are they. Perhaps the most compelling measure of a player, he will of that player to succeed, can often be the most difficult to measure however. In the case of Turner, this was his greatest attribute.
“Clay came in undersized and through his sheer force of will turned himself into a football player,” former coach Jack Simon said.”He was so quick and determined, he became a force on the offensive line.”
With his solid play on the offensive line, Turner would garner 2nd team and 1st team All-Henlopen honors in his junior and senior seasons. He also gained the accolade 3rd team All-State in his final year as a Buccaneer. While those honors were nice, his biggest thrill came when he was named to the Blue-Gold squad for the 1989 edition of the game. While being named to the squad was quite an honor, the fact that his father Parker also participated in the game back in 1956 made that accomplishment even more special.
“We are the only father and son from Milford to play in the Blue-Gold game, that is really something special,” stated Turner. “I remember seeing that Gold team jersey when I was growing up and I just thought to myself how awesome that was and how awesome it would be if I got one of my own.”
With his selection to the HOF, the Turner family will double up on that accomplishment as well, with Clay’s father having joined back in 2013. Speaking about his selection, Turner said, “It’s really not something that I ever even thought would happen, it’s an honor that I can’t even begin to explain. The fact that my father is in the Hall of Fame as well, just adds to how special this is.”
While playing football at Milford was not usually noted about winning football games, Turner believes that the 4-6 squad his senior season may have been a bit underrated. “We played so many close games my senior year it was incredible. We could have really had a few more victories, but things just didn’t break our way a few times,” Turner said. “The thing I remember the most was how hard we tried, how we all refused to give up. The last game we won however meant a great deal to us. Being able to win the Battle of The Bell my senior season was a very special memory to close out my Buccaneer career.”
When it came to recognizing people that influenced him in his youth, Turner thanked Pat Coats, Fred Duffy and Jack Simon. “Those guys were all tremendous educators, they all contributed into making me the person I am today,” saidTurner. When asked about the kind of person that Turner was, Simon indicated that Turner was a very special kind of individual. “Clay was the type of kid that it was very easy to like. He was the type of young man any father would want their son to be,” stated Simon.
In addition to football, Turner played baseball his first two years, before switching to golf. Upon graduation from Milford, Turner enrolled in the University of Delaware where he earned his degree in Health and Physical Education. While he initially had an eye towards teaching and coaching, he eventually found himself in the banking industry.
Turner lives and works in Newark with his wife of 21 years Diane and their daughters Madi and Emi. He emphasized how important family is to him. “Family is what it’s all about, family does for family it’s the way I was raised and it has always been important to me,” Turner stated. Turner hasn’t given up on coaching either, as he coaches travel softball. “When my daughters started playing ball I was asked to help out, so I just chipped in.”