Wisconsin RB Clay to miss spring practice

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced on Wednesday that junior running back John Clay will be shelved for all of spring practice as he recovers from a January 7 left ankle surgery.

Clay, who has battled chronic ankle issues during his career in Madison, had a procedure two months ago to relieve pain in his left ankle but was expected to miss only the first part of spring. However, the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has decided to undergo surgery on his right ankle on March 25 in hope that he can enjoy a pain-free 2010 season. He will take ample time in recovering and plans to return for summer conditioning in June.

The Badgers’ spring season begins on Saturday, culminating in the spring game on April 17.

Playing with pain, Clay finished a fantastic sophomore campaign by rushing for 121 yards and two scores in the Badgers’ 20-14 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Champs Sports Bowl. He led the Big Ten and was ranked eighth in the nation with 1,517 yards on 287 carries and 18 scores in 2009.

“The thing that excites me about his injury is I think you’re going to see an even better John Clay down the road,” Bielema said. “The issues he had, I think, are going to give him a lot of relief and allow him to be an even better football player.”

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