Tuesday, June 25, 2013
2015 OL Clark's day ends in PSU offer
By Josh Moyer
Austin Clark (Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County) inched his face closer to the car window and craned his neck to get a closer look at Beaver Stadium on a humid Saturday morning.
This was his first trip to Happy Valley, so he tried not to reflect too much on a possible scholarship. He just wanted to show the coaches he could play. The 2015 offensive lineman would receive an offer later in the afternoon, but for now, he just stared at the stadium and imagined what it might be like if he stood on the sideline.
"My face was glued to that window," he said with a laugh. "The stadium was huge. I was in shock, just in awe. It was extremely cool."
The lineman with the light drawl arrived at registration for PSU's advanced skills camp at 7:45 a.m. He was weighed (280 pounds) and measured (6-foot-6) before his recruiting coach, Charles London, pulled him aside. The staff wanted him to linger after the camp's final bullhorn -- about seven hours later -- so they could show him around.
Clark could feel his pulse quicken.
"When he said that, I had no idea they were going to offer," Clark added. "It was more like, 'This is my one chance.' I knew I had to make the most out of it. I knew had to impress these coaches."
He already had earned offers from the likes of Duke, UNC, Tennessee and Virginia. And he already had become the first sophomore in his school's history to earn an FBS offer. But that wasn't necessarily the only aim at PSU's camp, to pick up another offer to add to a growing list. He wanted to show he wouldn't quit.
With temperatures hovering in the low-90s, Clark grew exhausted once lunch came and linemen were directed to grab a sandwich, a bag of chips and a bottle of water. He rested inside the air conditioning for an hour. Once the break was over, jogging back outside was a shock to his system.
But he thought back to London's words and knew the coaches were watching. So he trudged on and tried to ignore the sweat rolling down his back.
"I was just like, I got to keep going, got to push through it," Clark said. "I wanted to put that little bit extra in to make myself look better for the coaches because I really like Penn State. I mean, what first drew me to them was their great football tradition and their academics."
He closely followed offensive line coach Mac McWhorter's instruction and tried to outmuscle the opposition during one-on-ones. McWhorter would sometimes crouch down in his own three-point stance to show campers proper technique -- and Clark called that hands-on training the highlight of this weekend.
Clark moved quickly and McWhorter praised his flexibility. So, when that final bullhorn did sound, the Virginia native remained hopeful. And when he relaxed in McWhorter's office as London strolled by, telling the prospect O'Brien wanted to see him, Clark finally caught on. He was going to get an offer.
"Coach O'Brien told me I was exactly what they were looking for in an offensive lineman -- I had the size, the athleticism and the flexibility -- and that made me even more excited," Clark said. "Getting that offer, it's just definitely its own feeling. It's indescribable. You're happy, excited, a little nervous at the same time. It's just a great feeling.
"I just told him I was extremely honored. I told him how highly I thought of Penn State and how I could definitely see myself going there, and I'm definitely going to keep in touch."
Clark has already visited Duke, Ohio State and Tennessee this summer. And he'll head to Virginia, Virginia Tech and Tennessee (again) next month. But it seems as if that first visit to Happy Valley will stay with him.
He said Monday evening that he already has looked at Penn State's schedule and hopes to attend a few games -- especially the 'White Out' vs. Michigan on Oct. 12. He might even book a hotel soon in preparation for that visit.
"This is just my junior year coming up, so I'm not ready to say I have any top schools or anything," he said. "But I'm really excited, and I could definitely see myself going to Penn State."