Allderdice defensive end Clarke adapts to change
College Football Videos
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. —At first, Will Clarke was going to stay home and play football at Pitt.
Then he wasn't.
After changing his mind to attend West Virginia, Clarke remained a Big East man all the way.
Then he wasn't.
“Things are going to change, but if you have the right mental attitude and know what you're here to do, which is play football, you'll be able to adapt to any change,” said Clarke, the first player from Allderdice to sign with a Bowl Championship Series university since recent Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin went to Pitt. “I feel like I made the best choice.”
For Clarke — a junior defensive end who originally committed to Pitt and also considered Akron and Iowa before signing with West Virginia in March 2009 — the changes continue.
After switching his college choice from Pitt to West Virginia, then seeing Bill Stewart — the coach who recruited him — replaced by Dana Holgorsen, and then, finally, seeing WVU move from the Big East to the Big 12 this year, Clarke experienced yet another change when the Mountaineers added a 3-4 defense.
“There was a lot of pressure making the decision to go to West Virginia,” said Clarke, whose father, former Duquesne basketball player Bill Clarke, was good friends with Pitt football and basketball great Sam Clancy. “Being from Pittsburgh, all your hometown people want you to go to Pitt. But I had a lot of help from people from Allderdice. My family helped me realize it was my decision to do what was best.”
While at Allderdice, Clarke, also a basketball star, leaned on advice from former Oliver coach Jerry Haslett, who taught classes at Allderdice, and position coach William McLinden, who played football at West Virginia from 1984-87.
“Everybody was pestering him: ‘You need to go to West Virginia. You need to go to Pitt.' He made an adult decision when he was 17,” said Haslett, now the coach at Allderdice and the brother of Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. “Sam Clancy was his dad's best friend. You don't think Sam wanted him to go to Pitt?”
McLinden, who attended Bethel Park, understands there's peer pressure involved when a Pittsburgh kid leaves home to play football at West Virginia.
“Will didn't succumb to what everybody else wanted him to do,” McLinden said. “He took a lot of time to make sure he was where he wanted to be.”
Now that he's settled in with the Mountaineers, big things are expected from Clarke.
Clarke started 11 games last season, registering 34 tackles and five tackles for losses, including two sacks. He made his first start in the opener against Marshall and recorded a career-high nine tackles against South Florida.
“Going to the Big 12 was definitely something I wasn't thinking about, or the coaching changes,” Clarke said. “I really liked (former defensive line) coach (Bill) Kirelawich and Coach (Stewart). I liked how they sold the program to me.
“Some people feel the Big 12 is bigger than the Big East. Kids in Pittsburgh now think of West Virginia as a Big 12 school that's not far away from home and plays teams like Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. That's a big sales pitch.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Defense grows up fast for No. 22 West Virginia
- West Virginia notebook: Reserve RBs step up after injury to Shell