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Utah football 2014: Newcomer Kaelin Clay is Utes latest human highlight reel

Utah Utes football.
Utah Utes football.
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

He made you think of Shaky Smithson. Reggie Dunn. He even made you think of Erroll Tucker, the great Utah Utes football return man who broke the ankles of several BYU players in Salt Lake City and in Provo.

And then, he took it to a whole 'nuthuh levuh--the HNL, as comedians Key and Peele would say. The dreadlocked senior wearing his No. 8 jersey in red fielded Idaho State's rugby-style punt on Thurs. Aug. 28 in front of a red and white striped packed house at Rice-Eccles Stadium--going to his right at midfield, stepping on the red U emblem where he ran into all kinds of trouble.

Nothing there but white jerseys, really, so newcomer Kaelin Clay--one of a host of recruits Utah brought on from various junior college programs this offseason--reversed field and spun to his left, looking for breathing room.

Clay, a speedster and former track star out of Long Beach Poly via Mount San Antonio JC, leapt over an Idaho State player coming right at him and turned on the afterburners from there--outrunning Bengals players for a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown, later named the No. 1 play of the day by ESPN SportsCenter.

Clay wasn't done. Later, after Idaho State scored its 14th and final point of the game, Clay received a Bengals kickoff towards the right coffin corner on the Utes' 1-yard line.

An Idaho State player tackled Clay at the 14, appearing to have the Ute down on contact. Clay somehow wriggled out of the tackle though and kept his balance, sprinting untouched through several Bengals en route to a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown--his second return for a TD in the game in Utah's 56-14 rout over ISU.

"It felt great. I pride myself on special teams. It's one of those things that usually go unnoticed, but I take a lot of pride in it," Clay said post-game.

Clay's two TD returns in one game on Thursday tied a Pac-12 record that was set by former Cal player Deltha O'Neal back in 1999.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham--who also coaches the Utes special teams--was especially pleased with Clay's performance in his first game.

"We played solid special teams as you saw with the play of Kaelin Clay tonight. He had a great game and gave the team a lot of energy."

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