Informed Decision

Will Clarke didn't feel pressured to make his college choice, even as Signing Day approached and passed.

The rangy defensive end had narrowed his choices to West Virginia, Akron and Pittsburgh, but a combination of factors led him to extend his decision making process before he finally signed with WVU last week.

"I just didn't feel like I had the time to evaluate everything," Clarke said of the reasons for his late decision. "It was basketball season, and I was also working, so I didn't have a lot of time to devote to it. I wanted to involve my family, too. They were a big part of it, and I wanted to make sure that I had considered everything before I made my decision."

Part of that evaluation process included writing down positives and negatives about each school. Discussions with family members, including his mother, father and sister, were also an important part of the process. And in the end, West Virginia came out on top.

"I just liked the football program the best overall," Clarke said of the decision. "I think I can get a good education there, and the coaches are excellent."

Clarke, who is qualified, knows that his earlier decommitment from Pitt, as well as his home proximity to the Panther campus, could make him a target for a few jeers when the Backyard Brawl is renewed.

"When I was talking to my Dad about that, he said that when the games are in Pittsburgh, I'll need to be prepared for some boos," he admitted. "I think I will be able to deal with it. But I haven't really gotten any negative comments since I made my choice. Everyone I've talked with has been happy for me and has offered me congratulations."

On the field, Clarke shows great promise as an edge rusher. With a rangy frame and long wingspan, he has the raw tools to be an effective defensive end, or perhaps even an outside linebacker. West Virginia's coaches didn't discuss his ultimate position with him in detail, but Clarke said he would have no problem adapting to any spot on the field. He moved down to the defensive end position in high school, but believes that he would be able to play either one at WVU.

Now that his decision is made, Clarke's plans are set. He will finish his high school career in May, then come to West Virginia and enroll in summer school to get the early start that most freshmen now take advantage of. The move will also allow him to get a jump on the demanding courses that will make up his chosen field of study in engineering.

"I have an uncle that was an electrical engineer, but that didn't really influence my decision or interest in that field," he noted. "It's just something that I've always been interested in."

On the field, Clarke counts consistent effort and intensity as his prime characteristics.

"I play to the whistle, and I don't take any plays off," said Clarke of two factors that will certainly endear him to WVU assistant coaches Bill Kirelawich and Jeff Casteel. "I also try to be a team leader and keep everyone's heads up, no matter how the game is going or if we win or lose."

With Clarke's signing, West Virginia received an nice boost to its class of defensive linemen that includes Curtis Feigt and Dominik Davenport. Tevita Finau, who has had a rather bumpy path to graduation from his junior college, is also expected to complete his requirements and enroll this fall. The quartet, with a nice mix of skills, could well be the anchors of future WVU defensive lines.

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