Daryll Clark Leading Penn State Back to Prominence

Ryan BowerCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2008

If one were to look at a list of the top quarterback recruits in 2005, names like Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, Graham Harrell, Cullen Harper, and Erik Ainge stand out. Not to mention Pat White, Curtis Painter, and others who were in the same class.

But one player that didn't show up on a list of the top incoming freshman passers that season was Daryll Clark. The versatile Penn State quarterback was nothing more than a three-star recruit out of Youngstown, Ohio who didn't even appear in most scouting services' top 40 quarterbacks lists.

But Clark has positioned himself to have perhaps the greatest season of any PSU quarterback since Kerry Collins in 1994.

The 6'2", 231-pound junior has clearly been the team's best player through its first five games. Clark's running ability, combined with his surprisingly accurate arm, is leaving little doubt as to who this year's leader of the Nittany Lions will be.

Clark is poised to lead Penn State to a Big Ten title and possibly more. With the glaring inconsistencies and weaknesses of the Ohio State and Wisconsin offenses, it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Lions can run the table through conference play.

Many fans questioned the coaching staff's decision to start Clark over highly recruited sophomore Pat Devlin, but Clark has proven the coaching staff right with his early play.

Through his first five games this season, Clark has completed 63 percent of his passes for 896 yards and nine touchdowns while throwing just one interception. He's also made plays with his legs, running for 131 yards on 23 carries and scoring three times.

Clark leads the Big Ten and ranks 11th nationally with a 168.3 passer rating, leading a team that ranks fourth in the nation in points per game (48.9), and is ranked ninth in rushing yards per game (267.6).

The team has also showed tremendous balance on offense, averaging 247.6 pass yards per game.

With all of Clark's tremendous playmaking ability and athleticism in focus, one thing that often gets lost in the conversation is Clark's ability to distribute the football.

Through five games, 15 different players have caught a pass for the Nittany Lions. Anthony Morelli completed passes to 15 players all of last season, and 18 players during the entire 2006 campaign.

Make no mistake about it, Daryll Clark is not Michael Robinson. Robinson, as good as he was, was a runner who could pass a little. Clark is a passer who can run.

He has the chance to be even better than Robinson in 2005, an has the opportunity to do what Robinson didn't—win a national championship.

No knock on Robinson, the loss to Michigan in 2005 was in no way his fault, but Clark provides Penn State with the leadership and true passing skills needed to win it all.

In watching Saturday night's win over Illinois, the verdict could not have been more clear. Daryll Clark is unquestionably the leader of the Nittany Lions offense.