WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Time of the essence for Will Clarke

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The NFL Draft begins tonight — I hear there’s a party in Charleston you must attend! — and it’s two weeks later than normal. It’s led to some inane coverage these past two weeks, which hopefully means this doesn’t happen again and the NFL realized that more attention is not necessarily better attention.

It was bothersome in other areas as well. For Will Clarke, one of maybe only two WVU players expected to hear their names called, this delay is a big deal because Big Will isn’t as big as he was a few months ago.

Clarke attended and performed admirably at the East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and the NFL draft combine. At each, he was measured and listed as 6 feet, 6 1/8 inches tall. Yet when the people at WVU’s pro day in March took the measuring tape to the Pittsburgh native, Clarke found out he’d shrunk 1 1/8 inches.

“Maybe,” he said, “I parted my dreads a different way. Hopefully my spine isn’t shrinking.”

So time is something of the essence for the defensive end, who could play there or as an outside linebacker in the NFL. Clarke, who said he’s talked to all 32 NFL teams and that the conversations about his role and his future have varied about as much as imaginable, figures to be drafted Saturday, which is reserved for the fourth through seventh rounds. Or it could happen in the second or third rounds Friday.

Opinions are mixed on Clarke. A scouting report at NFL.com touted Clarke’s “long, athletic, muscular” frame and said he was “smart and coachable,” but also called him a “linear, vanilla pass rusher” who actually struggled with his size and “shrivels against double teams and is too easily uprooted.”