Mike Leach call validated Tracy Clark's rise

PULLMAN – It wasn't difficult for Tracy Clark to become a student of the game. He spent the majority of his first four years at Washington State watching from the sidelines. And earlier this year, at the beginning of spring practices, it appeared his fifth and final season in crimson would be more of the same.

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, all his years of learning, and yearning, started to pay off.

Halfway through spring workouts, the Bay Area corner received a phone call that put his confidence into overdrive.

"Coach Leach called me one night and told me I'm doing a great job and having a great spring, so just keep it up," Clark told Cougfan.com in a recent interview. "When I got that call I knew everything was on the up and to just keep doing what I'm doing."

Leach's words were then reinforced on the field when Clark was elevated to the first unit. Rather than running with the 2s, Clark was staring down first-team wide receivers Kristoff Williams and Vince Mayle in the team's first official scrimmage.

From the first day of camp, Clark said, he knew he should be with the 1s.

Mind you now, this is from a guy who appeared in a total of eight games over the last two seasons.

Confidence has always been part of Clark's game, though he admits the lack of playing time was getting in his head.

"Not getting a lot of reps and not playing really does strike your confidence," Clark said. "But you know, I'm the most confident person in the world --me and Daquawn Brown. So just being out there with him it's a lot of good things that go on the field and a lot of excitement."

He and Brown, a fellow corner, are vocal leaders. The two of them bring fire to the field and that helps stoke the entire defense, Clark said.

CLARK ENTERS 2014 CARRYING the torch of now-departed DB mates Damante Horton, Nolan Washington and Anthony Carpenter. He developed a close bond with them over the years.

"Those were my boys," said Clark, who chose WSU in 2010 over San Jose State, Fresno State and others when he was a 3-star prospect out of Pittsburg, northeast of Oakland.

"Those were my core group of guys and so when they left they just gave me the torch and told me to takeover and be a leader. They just told me different techniques I could do or you know, just to play confident. I'm a real confident guy so they told me just be confident.

"Sitting and watching really helped me learn the game and learn different techniques to see how I could better myself once I get out there," he said. "Now that I'm out there playing, it's really just coming easy. I'm just staying real focused and doing the best of my abilities."

Clark said he was immature when he first arrived in Pullman, "but you know, sitting back playing here and there but not really on the field helped me to get better this year. I'm really taking advantage of every opportunity I get." After waiting his turn for so long, it's no surprise that Clark possesses serious patience. In fact, it's a part of the game that makes things easier for him, he said. Receivers often attempt to make quick moves at the line of scrimmage but his ability to be patient keeps him from biting, allowing him to open up and run.

"I think Tracy's improved a bunch," defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. "He's a veteran back there. He hasn't had a lot of playing time but he's going into his senior year and he's got to be one of our leaders back there and he's doing a good job."

This summer will be all about the weight room and speed workouts for the 5-11, 189-pound Clark as he looks not only to fall camp, but a home matchup with Oregon in September.

"My boy Erick Dargan goes there -- we went to high school together, we graduate at the same time," Clark said. "… that's a real big game I'm looking forward to."

Cougfan Top Stories