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APSU Football receiver Darryl Clack ready to emerge from shadows

 

Written by Colby Wilson
APSU Sports Information

Austin Peay State University Governors Sports - APSUClarksville, TN – How does a man who stands six-feet, six-inches get overshadowed?

Junior wide receiver Darryl Clack seems shy at first glance. The soft-spoken Nashville native never seems to raise his voice. He glides onto the field with grace, but not fanfare. He remains as inconspicuous as a man of his stature and skills can be, especially someone who commands such attention from opposing defensive backs.

APSU's Darryl Clack

Maybe it’s because he’s always being mentioned alongside legends.

Clack’s cousin is former Governor and 2010 All-American Terrence Holt, a diminutive do-everything back who owns Austin Peay records for career and season kick return yards. His running mate the last two seasons, Devin Stark, ended his college career as one of the most dynamic pass-catchers in Austin Peay history. Holt was a driving influence in Clack’s decision to attend Austin Peay, while Stark was a valuable mentor for the young receiver in his first two seasons on campus.

“It makes me humble and makes me want to develop my skills,” Clack says of the two former Govs. “Now it’s my time to break out and show everybody what I can do. I want the honors and recognition those guys had, but that’s not what I’m focused on; I’m focused on us growing as a program and winning.”

From Stark, Clack learned how to be humble; from Holt, he learned how to attack. Holt pushed Clack to come to Austin Peay, encouraging his cousin to continue his career at Holt’s alma mater when Clack was debating whether or not he wanted to continue playing football.

After arriving on campus, Clack slowly built his reputation as a solid option for departed quarterback Jake Ryan with good speed and – obviously – great size. Despite his impressive attributes and football acumen, he’s yet to be a No. 1 option in the Govs passing attack. That’s because, lining up across from Clack the last two seasons, Devin Stark put up some of the best receiving numbers in Austin Peay history, finishing with 142 catches (tied for fourth), 1706 yards (sixth) and 19 touchdowns (second).

Clack has shown flashes of his considerable potential – a 72-yard touchdown reception against Tennessee State in 2011 and a career-best four catches against Murray State in 2012 come most readily to mind – but Clack feels that this is the year the talk of potential ends and the act of production begins.

“I feel like I have to step up this year,” he said. “Devin’s gone. Jake Ryan’s gone. Somebody has to step up and I feel like that can be me.”

Part of that belief comes from the rapport he’s developed with his potential signal-callers for the 2013 Govs. Clack feels he’s developed good chemistry with both junior Andrew Spivey, who will begin the season as the No. 1 quarterback for Austin Peay, and sophomore Jacob Sexton. New head coach Kirby Cannon has placed an emphasis on spreading the ball around and asserting an aerial attack, and Clack has noticed the competition at quarterback making the entire offense better.

“The competition has been great,” Clack said. “They’ve had to learn from scratch, and they’ve both competed hard. It let everybody know you have to work hard for your spot on the field.”

Another factor working in Clack’s favor is his size. Few cornerbacks, at any level, are able to match Clack’s blend of length and athleticism, offering favorable matchups regardless of who opponents use to shut him down. Even at 200 pounds, he often outweighs opposing cornerbacks by as much as 30 or 40 pounds, enabling him to essentially box out corners when the ball is in the air.

Clack is excited for this season’s schedule – despite facing three FBS opponents (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Ohio), he feels that not only are he and the rest of the Govs are ready, but he is confident that they can show what they can do against top competition.

The hiring of Cannon – who brings the Pistol offense to Clarksville – also has energized the offense; for Clack, it will be the first time he’s been featured in a pass-heavy offense. He’s been a second- or third-option his last two seasons in Clarksville, and spent his high school years in a run-heavy Hillsboro High School scheme where he topped out with nine catches as a senior.

“I’m ready,” he said. “We’re ready. We’ve been preparing for the entire summer and now it’s time to get out and show what we can do.”

The junior was nominated by his teammates to be part of the 2013 team leadership council, a new directive being initiated under Coach Cannon. The council will be liaisons – two from each class – between the team and coaching staff, an honor indicating Clack’s teammates have noticed his leadership.

Clack feels that the rise of the program mirrors his own growth slightly. He bounced around growing up in the James Casey projects in Nashville, striving for a better life that felt just out of reach. Now a junior, Clack is on pace to graduate in five years with a degree in mass communications after changing his major from chemistry earlier this year. The future he’s strived for is within his grasp. Just one thing remains.

“It’s new coaches, new players, new attitude, new everything,” Clack says about the program. “Everybody gets their wins and losses; I think it’s time for Austin Peay, and me, to start getting our wins on and off the field.”


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