Win would cement Clark's legacy at Penn State
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Daryll Clark owns a number of Penn State season and career passing records, and he is one of just 12 quarterbacks since 1950 to be named first-team All-Big Ten Conference multiple times.
When he was chosen as co-MVP of the Big Ten earlier this month, Clark became the third Nittany Lions' quarterback to win the award, joining Kerry Collins and Michael Robinson.
Collins, a first-round NFL draft pick in 1995, has played for five teams in his 15-year career and currently is a backup for the Tennessee Titans. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Robinson in the fourth round in 2006 and promptly turned him into a running back.
Clark, on the other hand, is not highly regarded by NFL scouts or draft analysts.
"We currently have Clark as an undrafted free agent," said Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com/CBS Sports. "He still battles with inconsistency. Undersized and erratic accuracy-wise, he'll need a strong bowl game and postseason workouts to improve his stock."
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Clark the 17th-best quarterback prospect in the country and the 318th-best player overall.
"It's been an all-time dream [to play in the NFL] and I feel with everyone I've played with and against that has made it, it becomes more and more believable that you can make it as well," Clark said. "I feel like I've worked very hard, and I've come a long way, and you can't stop now. It's fairly close."
The Lions have a 21-4 record in games that Clark has started and they're 3-2 against ranked teams. But they were embarrassed in their two biggest home games this year, losing 21-10 to Iowa and 24-7 to Ohio State.
Clark and No. 11 Penn State (10-2) still have a chance to seal their season with a signature win by beating No. 13 LSU (9-3) New Year's Day in the Capital One Bowl.
"There's a lot being said about us not being able to win the big game or something like that," Clark said. "We've asked for a big game and we've asked for a worthy opponent, a really good opponent, and we found one in LSU."
Clark is well aware that a win in his final game could cement his legacy as one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history.
"It'll mean a lot, but that's not what I'm playing for," he said. "I'm not really focused on that."
Clark, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound senior co-captain from Youngstown, Ohio, leads the Big Ten in pass efficiency (145.7) and touchdown passes (23). He completed 214 of 346 passes (61.8 percent) for 2,787 yards en route to winning team MVP honors, but he also has thrown 10 interceptions.
"Daryll Clark is a fine quarterback and a strong leader," coach Joe Paterno said. "He has got a lot of ability. Whether I can tell you he's better than Todd Blackledge or better than Kerry Collins or anyone else, I don't like to do that.
"We've been fortunate that we've had [Clark]. He's had two years where we won 11 games last year and we've got 10 wins this year."
Paterno thinks Clark is "underrated" -- at least on the national level.
"I think there have been so many quarterbacks that have been on the scene longer than he has -- the kid at Florida [Tim Tebow], the kid at Texas [Colt McCoy]," Paterno said. "There's a whole bunch of kids that have really had outstanding years and have been maybe a little bit more spectacular in some of the games that they were involved in.
"I think it's not a question that people don't appreciate how good he is; they just think maybe some of the other guys are better."
Clark is looking forward to his matchup with LSU's Jordan Jefferson. The 19-year-old sophomore was the second-youngest quarterback to start a season-opener for LSU since Y.A. Tittle in 1945.
In 11 starts, Jefferson completed 169 of 272 passes for 1,964 yards. He threw 16 touchdown passes and six interceptions.
"I thought he managed the games that they played this year very well for a young guy," Clark said. "He's definitely a raw talent and makes plays with his feet, and he has a really live arm as well.
"For him to be playing in a really nice bowl, for him to lead a successful offense through a successful season, speaks volumes about what he can do for the football team."
First Published December 28, 2009 12:41 am