NORMAN — For some student-athletes, completing a degree is an investment in their future after sports. For Mark Clayton, it was about leaving a legacy.
"I have a son who’s 2 years old,” Clayton said. "I want to be able to say, ‘When you go to school, you’re going and you’re finishing.’ I want to preach that and tell him about finishing everything that you do. Everything that you start, finish with the best of your ability.”
Clayton, who was a redshirt member of the Sooners’ 2000 national championship football team, finished his college football days strong. He set the school record for career receiving yards. He was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, just 12 hours shy of finishing his communications degree.
Although he’s not done in NFL, Clayton seized the opportunity to finish school through OU’s degree completion program. OU offers classes online, but that route wasn’t right for him.
"You gotta know yourself,” he said. "Me and online, we don’t get along.”
It’s hard for professional athletes, especially those still playing, to get away from the demands of the sport to complete a degree.