Turning Up The Heat?

Clark aims to contend for Penn State's starting quarterback job in spring practice. Now a redshirt freshman, he believes he will be in the mix with returning starter Anthony Morelli and highly regarded rookie Pat Devlin.

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Milling around the boardwalk in a replica Dwyane Wade jersey, Penn State backup quarterback Daryll Clark could have passed for a native Floridian Saturday afternoon at the Outback Bowl's annual beach party. At the very least, he looked like a diehard Miami Heat fan.

But the redshirt freshman — an Ohio native — has been working on an even more convincing impersonation the past few months. He hopes to soon resemble a starting quarterback - just in case the Nittany Lions decide to go looking for one.

After a season in which the Lions' offense struggled to get in sync, there has been speculation that the coaches might open up competition for the starting quarterback job during the off-season. If they do, Clark said his objective will be to beat out first-teamer Anthony Morelli

“If he doesn't step up, then I will,” Clark said. “We talk about it. Me and him, we're almost like the best of friends. I told him, 'This is your year, go out and do your thing. But come next year, I'm going to give you a run.' That's how it's going to be. And he knows that.”

Clark played sporadically in the regular season, completing 14 of 27 passes for 116 yards in seven games. He also gained 48 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.

If the coaches decide to open up the position, Clark won't be Morelli's only challenger. True freshman Pat Devlin has reportedly done an impressive job impersonating Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge in practice and could figure into the quarterback picture in 2007 when he comes off his redshirt season.

“[Devlin] does have a lot of potential to give the starting position a run,” Clark said. “With the work I've been putting in, and the work Morelli has been doing to get himself better, it's going to be a pretty stiff competition.”

Clark is a long shot to play in the Outback Bowl on Monday. He's only likely to see action if the game is a blowout or if Morelli gets hurt.

The game to which Clark is pointing is the 2007 Blue-White Game. He missed last year's spring scrimmage because of an NCAA Clearinghouse problem, but he figures to get an extended audition this coming April, and he aims to make the most of it.

“That game is going to be the most important thing,” Clark said. “I want to play in that game and show the fans what I've got.”


Fight On State Top Stories