Clay Cordasco (56) started all 12 games at right guard for Oregon State last fall. The former Hiram resident expects to be signed as a free agent after completion of the NFL draft on Saturday. Scobel Wiggins photo

Clay Cordasco went from a football unknown at Sacopee Valley High to being the starting right guard at Oregon State University.

He’ll soon find out if his improbable football journey is going to continue in the NFL.

The 6-4 1/2, 306-pound offensive lineman does not expect to be one of the 255 players selected in this year’s NFL draft, which runs from Thursday to Saturday.

But Cordasco and his agent, Evan Brennan, both think he will be offered a free-agent contract once the draft is concluded.

“He’s not going to get drafted, but he’s a guy who’s going to have numerous offers. He will be a priority free agent for several teams,” Brennan said.

Clay Cordasco was seal-coating driveways for a year after high school because he lacked the grades to get into college. He improved his academic standing with two years at junior colleges in southern California before landing a football scholarship from Oregon State. Courtesy of Oregon State

Cordasco, who turns 24 on Tuesday, improved his stock significantly with impressive speed and agility drill times at Oregon State’s pro day on March 11. Oregon State, which plays in the Pac-12, was one of the final schools able to host a pro day before the coronavirus outbreak forced cancellations across the country.

Cordasco’s 20-yard shuttle time of 4.59 seconds was faster than any clocked by an interior offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

“From what I’ve heard from my agent, there were some scouts that definitely thought I put up some good numbers,” Cordasco said.

Brennan said since Cordasco’s pro day, he’s talked to between 15 and 20 teams about Cordasco.

“He’s very big and athletic. He played at a Power Five school, so that checks a lot of boxes,” Brennan said.

“I’ve talked to a few teams, the (Cincinnati) Bengals and the (San Francisco) 49ers,” Cordasco said. “Some of the teams want to know my backstory because I’ve been all over the place and some teams wanted to know where I was at, football-IQ wise.”

At first glance, Cordasco’s football travels could look like a cautionary red flag. He played at two high schools and two junior college before spending three years at Oregon State.

Instead, Cordasco’s path is a fascinating example of overcoming steep odds.

In three seasons at Sacopee Valley High, Cordasco’s teams never won a game. He finished his high school career at Kennett High in Conway, New Hampshire, so he could have a better level of competition. He was not recruited, partly because of poor academics. After a year working as a laborer in Maine, he went to southern California to live with his uncle and take another crack at football. While in junior college, he improved his academic record. He was a scholarship player at Oregon State who played in 21 games over two seasons, starting all 12 as a senior, and played multiple positions.

“My two seasons at junior college, I played left and right tackle, and at Oregon State I played left and right guard, and over the years I was practicing at center,” Cordasco said. “I can play guard and tackle and I know I can hold my own at those positions against good players.”

Cordasco’s pro day performance caused several NFL teams to reevaluate his potential.

“In comparison to all the players invited to the combine, and I ranked them, how he did was incredible,” Brennan said.

Cordasco’s best 40-yard dash time of 5.08 would have tied for second fastest among interior offensive linemen (guards and centers) and tied for 10th among all linemen who ran at the NFL combine.

Only two linemen, and one interior linemen, ran a quicker three-cone drill than Cordasco’s 7.57 seconds. Cordasco’s 20-yard shuttle of 4.59 seconds at his pro day was faster than all but one of the 26 linemen who did the drill at the Combine. In addition, his vertical and broad jump were competitive.

“And, I was told he looked good in his position drills,” Brennan said. “He looks the part, he weighs the part and he did all of those drills in elite range.”

The only measure where Cordasco did not stack up favorably was bench press. He was able to lift 225 pounds 20 times. Only two offensive linemen at the Combine had fewer reps, though 20 reps was the same total as Washington’s Nick Harris, a projected fourth-round pick by NFL.com.

The pandemic has and will continue to make things more difficult for aspiring players and NFL team officials to conduct offseason business.

After his pro day in Corvallis, Oregon, Cordasco had planned to continue to work out with personal trainer Chad Ikei in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the Cordasco family has relocated. Coronavirus closed Ikei’s gym. Cordasco doesn’t have weights at home, so he’s tied cinder blocks to a bar and lifted those, gotten his runs in on the road, and tried to find other creative ways to stay in shape.

In a normal year, Cordasco’s pro day effort would have prompted several NFL teams to schedule in-person visits, Brennan said. Such trips were prohibited by the NFL on March 15. A few days later, NFL facilities were closed and offseason training opportunities, also known as OTAs, were postponed indefinitely.

The lack of immediate access to team facilities and face-to-face interaction with coaches will make it tougher for an undrafted free agent, as well as late-round draft picks, to make an NFL roster, Brennan said.

In other words, Cordasco is once again facing some long odds. That’s nothing new for the kid from a tiny town in Maine who made it to big-time college football.

“I’m going to show up every day and be prepared to work. It’s the NFL. You can’t just walk in and get a job,” Cordasco said. “Everyone is competing for a job. You have to show them. I believe I have the work ethic and overall physicality needed at the offensive line position.”


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