Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Career: 2010- Present
Record: 19-7, Bowl Record: 1-1 including a BCS win
Son of a former Duquesne basketball player, Will Clarke makes the cut at #98. As a redshirt freshman, Clarke saw limited action in 4 games before really making his presence felt this past season. Clarke stepped in at defensive end on running situations to give Bruce Irvin a break. Clarke’s ability to shed blocks and make plays in the backfield led to increasing playing time as the season progressed. By the end of last season, Clarke was starting at DE (opposite of Bruce Irvin), moving Julian Miller inside to DT. Expectations for this upcoming season could not be any higher as Clarke is expected to be a stud in Coach Joe DeForest’s 3-4 defensive scheme.
Memorable Game: Clarke showed glimpses of his future greatness at the end of the 2011 campaign. In the biggest game of the season, Clarke shined. Needing a win against South Florida to win a share of the Big East Championship and preserve West Virginia’s hopes for a BCS bid, Clarke came through in a big way for WVU. Clarke registered a career high 8 tackles against the Bulls, helping WVU come from behind to win the game 30-27. The win earned WVU a bid in the 2012 Orange Bowl against Clemson.
Competition: The biggest competition here is David Grant. Grant had a great career at WVU and quite frankly, his stats are better than Clarke’s across the board. So why Will Clarke? The answer is two-fold: 1) Clarke has a lot of potential going into his final two years of eligibility and 2) I couldn’t find a good picture of David Grant. While I will not claim all the pictures in the countdown to be great (see number 99), I have made a concerted effort to find high quality images to match well-deserving Mountaineers.
Other players of note at number 98: Pat Liebig, Kevin Landolt, and Jim Gray.
Teaser: Coming up at #97 is a player who starred at both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Mountaineers. His defensive prowess would land him a spot at number 4 on the West Virginia all-time sack leader list. But as a wise man once said, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”