My feature today on Oregon defensive tackle Zac Clark has some cool features with it, including a video by Fernando Salazar (who also shot the photos) and a photo gallery put together by Josh Wood. Zac’s rise from North to Butler to the BCS title game was one of the funner things I’ve been lucky enough to write about.
Fern and I went to the Clarks’ house two days before Christmas and it was a lot of fun getting to spend some time with this family. Here’s five things that didn’t fit into this story, but were worth a mention.
1. He’s as focused as he seems.
Oregon and Auburn both have spent the week in Arizona, and players from both teams had the option of going to see the Suns play a home game. Zac’s sisters, Sadie and Destiny, were watching the game and saw that Cam Newton was there and then they showed some Oregon players. So they started looking for Zac, who was still in his hotel. His father, Steve, talked to him and asked why he didn’t go. It was simple: He didn’t want the distraction. Everything is about the game. Same approach he took at Butler.
2. State titles
As the Clark kids were all taking a picture together, we had them put on their title rings. Everybody won a state championship in high school except Zac, who didn’t seem to mind. “We’ll trade, definitely,” Destiny said.
3. He’s the runt. If you can call someone 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds a runt.
Little brother Trace is 6-foot-5, just like Steve. Zac is 6-2. We made Steve and Zac take their picture next to each other and it induced some laughter in the household.
4. People at Oregon haven’t forgotten about Chris Harper
I talked to several people in the Oregon athletic department throughout the last couple of weeks, and after learning I was from Wichita, each one of them said something like…
“Wow, well … we had really hoped to have two players from Wichita on this year’s team. But if you have to pursue your dream of playing another position, well I guess you just gotta do it.”
Yes, they know he doesn’t play QB. Do I need to explain further? He dogged out the program and the town on his way out of the door and he did it in a crass manner. They still haven’t forgotten.
5. His girlfriend is a baller
Zac is dating Oregon women’s basketball star Amanda Johnson. And in a weird twist, I was the sports editor at a small newspaper in Northern Cali about five years ago and covered a couple of Amanda’s games. Cameo by Zac around the halfway mark in this video about Amanda.