In Saturday evening's win over rival Michigan, Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark proved with one play that he has the character and leadership to take the Nittany Lions the distance.
The play I'm talking about wasn't a running play, or a long pass, or even a touchdown.
The play I'm talking about probably went by relatively unnoticed by both the casual fan and even the the most vigilant viewer.
The play I'm talking about shows the leadership and determination that Clark has to win, no matter what he has to do.
The play I'm talking about occurred toward the latter part of the third quarter on a running play by Penn State tailback Evan Royster. Royster ran a counter and Clark rolled out to sell the play-action; then, as Royster bounced to the outside, Clark came back to give his teammate a little help.
What Clark did was throw a huge block that put Michigan safety Steve Brown on the ground and allowed Royster to break a big running play. This play showed the character and leadership needed to play the quarterback position anywhere.
In coming back to the play and making that block, Clark showed people what he is about and that, even as a quarterback, he is still willing to get his hands dirty for the good of the team. Most quarterbacks would have ran that fake roll-out and then just stopped and watched.
However, this isn't the first time this season that Clark has shown his leadership ability and character. In the game against Illinois a few weeks ago, with Penn State already up big, Clark took a helmet to the knee and left the field, but only a few moments later wanted to get back in as soon as possible.
So why does Clark play so hard and never stop until the whistle sounds?
The reason is because he appreciates every second he has on the football field since he almost didn't have a chance to play again. Clark's story is interesting because, as a senior in high school, he had all the talent on the field but struggled in the classroom.
Clark admitted that it was his own fault that he did not do well in school because, at the time, he never applied himself. Now Clark has learned from that experience and works even harder, both in football and at school, in order to succeed.
After not having the grades to play major college football, Clark was given an opportunity by Joe Paterno and Penn State. Paterno and Clark made a deal that if Clark went to a junior college for a year and worked hard in the classroom to bring up his grades, he would be given the chance to play for Penn State.
Clark took the opportunity given to him and did what he told Paterno he would do and brought his grades up. Now this experience has translated to the football field for Clark and can be seen by his actions during the game and in the classroom. Clark leads Penn State by example and helps to set a precedent for his teammates.
Clark's efforts in school have brought him more than just an opportunity to play, but he has also been rewarded with an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA because he kept his promise and brought his grades up.
Clark is just one of the many leaders on this Penn State team, and his success is just a testament to and example of the success that hard work can bring someone.
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