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February 24, 2010

Q&A: Clark details prep for this week's NFL Combine

This is a big week for former Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark as he puts his skills on display for the NFL scouts at the Combine in Indianapolis.

Blue White Illustrated caught up with Clark earlier this month to see what has gone into his preparation for the big tryouts leading up to the NFL Draft in April.

Check out the second part of our exclusive Q&A with the Nittany Lions' former leading man.


It must be a crazy ball of emotions for all of you guys right now, right? There's gotta be some nerves, some excitement, a little bit of everything.

Clark:
There's some nerves. There's definitely excitement.

I mean, this is what you've been working on and working for. It's been a lifetime dream and to have it this close, you're so excited about it, you're nervous about it because you don't want to mess up and screw your chances or anything like that, but at the same time, this whole process, there comes a lot of uncertainty as well.

You don't know where you'll wind up. You don't know when you're going to get picked, unless your projected.

I've been told that I've been projected to go fourth or fifth round, I've been told that I project to go sixth or seventh. I've been told that I'm not going to get drafted. You know? So those things have been going through my head, but that, I cannot control.

All I can do is make sure I'm ready for the 24th of February and March 17th.

Have you contacted any of your teammates that are going through the same thing? Try to have a little camaraderie with guys that are going through it?

Clark:
I talk to Sean, I talk to Josh, I talk to Jared and Jerome, A.J. Wallace who happens to be about 15-20 minutes down the street. I've been keeping in touch with all of those guys and just making sure their morale is still high, making sure they're getting what they want out of their agents and their trainers, because this is all different.

No one is doing what I'm doing. A.J. is doing his defensive back thing, Jerome is doing his d-line/linebacker thing, and Sean and Josh are doing their linebacking thing.

It's just a whole different type of training because they're all different positions.

Who is your agent?

Clark:
Chafie Fields.

He's been around so that must be a good level of comfortableness?

Clark:
Oh, definitely. He's definitely good at what he does.

For the Combine, you knew you'd be invited but how did that all play out, when you found out you'd be invited, and what was your reaction?

Clark:
Well I was excited because that was another opportunity for me to compete and see where I stood with all of the other quarterbacks. You want to awe some scouts.

That's basically what it's about. This whole process is, and I really believe it because whenever anybody from the NFL comes to speak to us, it's a job interview.

It definitely is because not only are they watching your performance and watching how far you've come as a football player, they sit you down and they question you and see what you have to say.

And they don't just ask you football things. They get personal. They want to know about you.

Before they even think about investing any money, they need to see who they're dealing with. You can't go into the meeting rooms, acting like a fool.

Be truthful, don't be lying about anything, because they'll definitely find out. They're digging deep. They're looking for every thing, because they don't want it to come back on their organization.

Does the training center give you advice and training for that aspect of it? Do they bring in pros and test you through all of those extra curricular things you'll have to do when you get to the Combine?

Clark:
Our agent just brought a guy in who has been dealing with NFL players for 36-38 years, I can't remember. But, he had a meeting with all of us and he was just telling us what they expect to see. From the interviews and when you work out.

Then what we did was, we had individual interviews that were about two hours long. We sat down and did like a mock interview, and he had all of these questions that you may get asked in the actual interview. Now, the teams only have a time of 15 minutes to get everything through.

But, they can ask you anything, so he prepared us for that and it definitely helps out because a lot of the questions, and the interview portion, has never really been a problem for me, but it always helps to get refreshed.

So take me through a normal day for you right now. When you get home tonight are you studying a playbook? How do things work on that end?

Clark:
We work out twice a day. It starts at nine, and we'll go in, take Thursday, we'll go in at nine o'clock and we'll do legs and lower body, and then we'll go out and do some combine work, whether it be running 40s, you name it. All kinds of drills that get you ready. Then, we're off, take a little break that's over 11:45-12:15, and then we come back to where we're housed at, have some lunch, and come back at four o'clock and do combine things like throwing routes.

Linebackers work on their drops, and if you want to do anything extra, that's the time to do it.

So, the day of football usually ends for me in training at about seven o'clock, and then I come back home and I go over the Penn State playbook just to refresh my memory of blocking schemes and coverages and things like that because that's the type of thing they're going to be asking me.

I don't know about other positions but I know they're going to be asking me to draw up this front, draw up your favorite play and why does it work in this type of coverage, things like that.

Do you have a roommate? Are you training with anybody else?

Clark:
I don't have a roommate. There's no other Penn State players working down here with me. Boise State's Cyle Wilson is down here, a linebacker from LSU, Myron Rolle is down here. Just to name a few.

As far as the actual Draft, did you go to the advisory board or did you get that information from your agent?

Clark:
You only get the opinions of your agents because like, with Chafie, he knows a lot of general managers, he has a lot of meetings with teams all over the country, just to see where they find you as far as the Draft. They don't give him an exact round or exact pick, they give him opinions on where you'll wind up being.

So, all of those numbers that I gave earlier in the interview, that's what I hear all the time. But, I don't know. I really don't know what's going to happen. I can't control that.

All I can do is make sure that I ball out, that I do well at all of these tests.

Obviously you're not thinking about anything else, but Mike Robinson ended up going to running back. Is a position switch anything that anybody has brought up to you, or do you just solely try to focus on the quarterback thing right now?

Clark:
Surprisingly no. No one has asked me, Would you be comfortable playing another position. As far as I'm concerned, everyone is evaluating me as a quarterback, which is great because that's what I want to play.

Obviously you're an athlete though. You could do more things than just play quarterback if need be.

Clark:
If need be, yes, but no one has said anything. Now, if I was told from a couple of coaches, 'You know what Daryll, when you come to the Combine we want to see you work as a wide receiver' or whatever, then I would have let Tom Shaw know, and he would have taken me through running routes and things. But, no one's asked me that.

When you say surprisingly, I'm assuming that means you were expecting somebody to say something?

Clark:
I mean, you hear it on the Internet and you hear it from everybody else. A lot of people ask me back at home.

The same thing happened to Brad Smith, quarterback played for Missouri and now a wide receiver for the Jets now. He's from my home town, so he's a guy that has made it and is actually doing well in the league, and we have a couple of guys that are doing well also, but, playing quarterback, it's just me and him. So, they see him getting converted, so they automatically say I'll get converted. So I just hear about it.

They say, Did they talk to you about playing another position and I'm like, Honestly, no.

But, that's all I've been hearing. They want to try to ask you if you're going to play somewhere else and I'm just like, I'll be prepared for it if they do, but presently, they have not.

How frustrating is the cycle of all of the external factors? Obviously Mel Kiper's opinion doesn't really determine anything, but at the same time, Mel Kiper and all of these people are weighing in with their opinions. How much do you have to block that out?

Clark:
You definitely do have to block it out.

That I learned from Mike (Robinson) because he told me when he was coming out, it seemed like Mel Kiper hated him. He would have a good practice, but they would only put his bad plays on film. That's what he had told me.

But, yeah, you block it out. These guys are experts and they are doing their job so they need something to talk about. But, they don't make the decisions. They never have.

I assume that has to drive you crazy.

Clark:
It drives me nuts.

I hear about it and I laugh at it. It's funny because McShay has been on my back all year. He's been coming at my neck all year, so it's nothing new for me. I heard during the game, all he was saying is, 'Oh, he's not a quarterback. I just don't see him playing there'.

He did say one thing that's nice about me - 'I do see him getting drafted as a quarterback.'

So I was like, OK, I'll use that.

You just can't really pay attention to them, man. If you fall into that trap, you'll get discouraged and it will affect your performance.

So what are your immediate plans between now and the Combine?

Clark:
I won't be up to Penn State until I start prepping for Pro Day so that will be either the second or third week of March.

Then after the Combine, I'm coming back here (Orlando) to do a little extra training because if I don't do something at the Combine, like run, I'm definitely throwing the ball, but if I don't run or something like that, I'm going to definitely run for Pro Day.

Does somebody tell you not to run or is that just your own feelings on the day of?

Clark:
They say it really doesn't make a difference because you're going to have to do it either after Pro Day or at the Combine. It doesn't really make a difference.

But, as far as running things, your agent will say, if you feel comfortable, you're real loose, and you feel like you can run a good time, just go with your gut, just run. If you don't, then you don't have to do it. If you're laboring through an injury and you can't give it your all, don't do it.

Holuba's got that nice fast track, too, right?

Exactly.


Note: BWI will continue to be in touch with Clark as he goes through the Draft process. Be sure to check back here for future updates after the Combine, Pro Day, and the Draft.


For the first part of our interview with Clark, click here!




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