• John Macon Gillespie

A Hate Of Losing Drives Claybrook

Things are still looking up in Starkville, especially for junior offensive lineman Joey Claybrook. This past fall he helped lead his team to become the 6A State Champions. Now he is taking in college offers. The latest to strike is Tulane.

“It feels really good and exciting,” Claybrook told SES Mississippi. “I just feel really blessed to have the opportunity.”

After receiving the news from Tulane, Claybrook went to his mom with the news before telling anyone else.

“She was very proud of me and just encouraged me to keep working hard on and off the field,” Claybrook said.

As for the 2016 Yellowjacket season, Claybrook says the team is hard at work getting ready to defend their crown.

“We're working really hard in the weight room trying to get as big and as fast as we can,” Claybrook said.

Starkville will enter the 2016 season without stars like AJ Brown, Kobe Jones, Lorenzo Dantzler, Montario Montgomery and several other key players from this past year. Claybrook admits the magnitude of the loss but feels the Jackets are still in great shape moving forward.

“We have three returning starters on the offensive line and we’re planning on having a huge year up front with both the O-Line and D-Line,” Claybrook explained. “We have a good bit of guys returning on defense as well, and we also have some talented guys coming up working hard in the weight room to fill those seniors shoes.”

Claybrook helped pave the way for one of the most balanced rushing and passing attacks in the state this past season. He got down and dirty on runs between the tackles and used his quick hands and agile footwork to give his quarterback time to fine an open receiver. He plays with a high motor he says comes from a hatred of losing.

“I just really hate to lose,” Claybrook declared. “Whenever I want to quit I just think about what it was like losing at the beginning of the season to Noxubee County or last year against South Panola. I also just really try to make my family and friends proud.”

Another driving force behind Claybrook and his entire team is the love they get from the city of Starkville.

“It's really amazing there's so much fan support and the whole town supports you and if you go out wearing your Starkville football clothes you always get recognized. That's why my team works so hard so we don't let our city down.”

Tulane and Mississippi Gulf Coast have pulled the trigger on this great talent. They certainly will not be the last.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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