The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 139 of 267

F By John Borton rank Clark crouched with the anticipation of a cheetah eying a wounded wildebeest. His eyes widened when an Ohio State offensive tackle shifted his attention inside, leaving a clear path to OSU quarterback Braxton Miller. They say in baseball if you get your pitch, don't take it, don't swing and miss, and don't foul it off. Clark followed none of those unsatisfying paths. Instead, he teed off, charging unabated from the left end of Michigan's defensive line, aiming right for the imagined bull'seye on Miller's chest, and slamming into recorded 16 tackles for loss, Clark nine — the junior defensive end wants more. He aches for greater consistency, a bigger impact and a game-changing presence. In short, he's looking for more Millermashing moments. But the real story, and a small miracle, does not involve Clark getting to the quarterback. It's about him getting to Michigan in the first place. Clark grew up in Baldwin Village, the notorious enclave of Los Angeles that served as the backdrop for the movie "Training Day," starring Denzel Washington. Nicknamed "The Jungle," the area lives up to its survival-demanding sobriquet without fail. Big Hitter Frank Clark Is Ready To Take Aim At Quarterbacks it. Miller crumped to the turf at Ohio Stadium, stunned and shaken, amid leaping, celebrating Michigan defenders. Miller remained down for several seconds until a teammate finally pulled him to his feet. For a defensive lineman, that moment made every anonymous lifting session, every sweat-soaked sprint and every correcting bark from an unsatisfied coach worthwhile. "As a player, that was a moment you live for," Clark admitted, his eyes gleaming over the reminiscence. "When that moment arose, I took full advantage of it. My eyes, and everything in me, just got fired up. I knew it was about to come. I was just praying he didn't throw the ball before I got to him. "When I hit him, everything just slowed down. I couldn't hear the crowd, I couldn't hear my teammates … it just seemed like I was in the zone." Clark desperately desires to be in the zone more often. He escaped a trouble zone growing up, followed direction away from the twilight zone of Ohio as a high schooler, and now figures to do a lot more celebrating with Michigan students — beyond the end zone. Michigan's second-most effective performer at taking down prey behind the line of scrimmage last year — Jake Ryan Drugs, gangs, guns … a good day in Baldwin Village means at the end of it, you're still breathing and retain the freedom to potentially get out. "It's hard," Clark offered quietly. "It's poverty stricken, a rough neighborhood. "Not a lot of people really make it out. You're blessed to live beyond 21, if you're a male growing up in this neighborhood. You're either going to end up dead or in jail. Most of the men are in gangs. Most of the women are doing whatever." One woman was determined to do what it took to save her son. Clark's mother got the boy, the youngest of three back then, to age 12. Then she got him out. "My mother ended up getting me to Ohio, putting me on a plane," Clark recalled. "She knew best. She knew that if I stayed there, she didn't know what was going to happen. She watched my older two brothers get in trouble as they grew up. "She said she didn't want me to be that way. I was the youngest at the time. She told me she wanted me to be the one who would Clark recorded 25 total stops, nine tackles for loss (which ranked second on the team) and two sacks while seeing a steady increase in playing time as a sophomore in 2012. 138  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview photo by lon horwedel

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2013 Football Preview