Written by: Jon Bozeka (@JonBozeka)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady stands at 6-4 225 pounds and four-time NFL MVP in Peyton Manning stands at 6-5 230 pounds. As for Danny Clark, well, he stands at 6-3 200 pounds. The difference is that Danny Clark is a freshman at Massillon Washington High School in Northeast Ohio, while Brady and Manning are NFL veterans who are famous by name recognition alone.
As of this weekend, Clark may start to become the same as he committed to play football at the college level. The young freshman quarterback, who can’t even drive yet, has decided to play football for The Ohio State University and head coach Urban Meyer.
Now I know we have all heard this story before; a high school freshman phenom is going to be the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. In today’s society we seem to hear this story all the time, but Danny Clark may be a different story.
Standing at 6-3 200 pounds, he still has years to grow being only 15 years old. His freshman year at Massillon Washington was a good one as he threw for 1,644 yards, 17 touchdowns and he even ran for one more. He started 11 of the 12 games that the Tigers played in and set an 8-3 mark as the starter leading his team to the Ohio State Playoffs.
The Tiger’s three losses under Clark were all close games and to playoff teams. They lost to Akron St. Vincent St. Mary, 28-23, Austintown Fitch, 30-27, and Medina Highland, 17-14. In all three instances the team was down by two touchdowns or more in the second half and Clark led the Tigers back into the game.
Against St. Vincent St. Mary, who just won the Division III Ohio State Championship, he was down 28-10 at home in the third quarter, but never panicked. He sat in, and fought back, and while the Tigers came up short, Clark showed some tenacity at a young age.
In a battle against Austintown Fitch, the team was down 30-14 in the second half, but it didn’t faze Clark. He threw for 358 yards, 2 touchdowns, and was one controversial call away from a huge comeback win.
He was never out of a football game this season. He kept his team alive each week and rarely panicked. The season ended as he came up short to Medina Highland in the second round of the Division II playoffs.
The head coach of the Massillon Tigers, Jason Hall, had to make a decision at the beginning of the season between starting a junior or a freshman. Andrew David, a junior was the starter coming into the season and for the first game, but as of the second week of the season, Clark had taken over.
In a Massillon Independent article after defeating rival Canton McKinley in the last week of the regular season, coach Hall praised his quarterback saying, “I keep telling people, Danny Clark is the toughest player on my football team.”
Clark played in front of 20,000 fans at Fawcett Stadium in the 124th McKinley-Massillon game. It is one of the oldest rivalries in all of high school football and it was a game the Tigers had to win in order to make the playoffs.
The big question coming into this game was; how would the freshman play? Well after the game Clark answered with, “When I go out there, I don’t really think about the whole freshman thing.”
Massillon defeated an undefeated McKinley team, 34-7, and Clark made very few mistakes. He had proven his toughness to coach Hall and his ability to himself.
So now let’s fast-forward to this past Friday as Danny Clark received an offer from Ohio State as a freshman in high school and he has committed to play for the Buckeyes in 2017. During his senior year at Massillon is when Clark will be able to officially sign his national letter of intent, but until then, all we can do is watch him grow and get excited for the future.
In the past, players around the country have verbally committed to certain colleges and then have gone somewhere else. As for Clark, the freshman is a born and bred Buckeye. Ohio is his home and ever since he was a little boy, Clark has bled scarlet and grey.
It seems like the picture perfect story for the state. It may very well be, but the question is not about how good the story can be, it is if he is the real deal.
To answer the question, yes folks, Clark is the real deal. Clark is 15 and starting for a premiere Ohio High School football program in Massillon. He has the size of an NFL quarterback and his mind is years ahead on the field. Clark has nowhere to go but up. Buckeye fans and sports fans across Ohio should be excited to see him grow right in front of us.
He is an amazing talent and one that only comes along every two or three decades. Let’s embrace the story of Danny Clark, and while he takes his ride to the top, let’s follow him there as fans. It’s going to be a fun one.