So last week, I wrote about how we would have liked to hear Daryll Clark speak at the memorial, in addition to Michael Robinson. Daryll agreed and today he sent us his written “Message to Coach”. We really appreciate Daryll taking the time to write this out for all of us to read. One of the classiest players we have ever met. Check it out below.
Daryll Clark: Message to “Coach”
After the memorial some people had asked me if I was disappointed for not being chosen to speak. My answer was absolutely not, and for two reasons.
1. Everyone on that stage that spoke a tribute to Joe Paterno we’re more than fitting for the occasion.
2. The memorial was not about me. It was about sending the Legend off the best way possible and I personally thought that it was a success. However, if I was given the chance to speak, this is what I would have said.
Good afternoon. My name is Daryll Clark and I played Quarterback here at Penn State during the 2008 and ’09 seasons. First I want to say that it is a true honor to be here today to speak a tribute to the coach we all know and love, Joe Paterno.
With every letterman comes a different story on how we met coach, and that is what is so unique. I enrolled at Penn State the summer of 2005. I met coach Paterno when he and Jay Paterno (QB coach) visited my high school. My parents were with me. We all sat down in the Athletic Director’s office and started the recruiting chat. Sitting across from Joe, all I kept saying to myself was “Is this real? Is this really happening? Joe Paterno??”
I kid you not, but for the first 20 minutes we talked about everything BUT Penn State. We talked about school, my family, my girlfriend, my high school football season; the list goes on. During my recruiting process no other coach did that. That’s why I knew Joe was the best. I committed right then and there. Coach told me I wouldn’t play right away and that when I finally get the opportunity to, I WILL work for it. That really was all I needed to hear.
The journey began as a freshman. For the first two weeks I was still at awe of the fact that I play for Penn State; I play for Joe Paterno. I remember when we would have our squad meetings at the beginning of every game week. Joe would start to tell us a story about something that happened way back in the day. Halfway through, players around me started to look around like, “where is this dude going with this story?” Somehow, someway, coach would always bring his story full circle and tie it in with our teams’ current situation – leaving everyone in the room like, “OOOOOOOO, I see now.” I would say to myself every time “Joe, you are the man.”
Time would roll by and now I was competing for the starting job. There wasn’t a day that Joe didn’t yell at me -”Clark, you can’t be late across the middle!!! Jay if he can’t get it right then send him back to Youngstown!” I would laugh to myself and made sure I never made the same mistake again. Before every game I was a nervous wreck. Joe would always tell me “Just play within yourself, and just watch what happens.” It worked wonders for me every time.
Joe had a couple of strict rules. To name a few: be clean shaven, 15 minutes before meetings, go to class everyday, check into breakfast and eat breakfast! As a freshman I didn’t really understand why so strict. As I got older it all started to make sense, Joe was getting us ready for life. When you’re starting your first job after college, you want to be on time, looking presentable, with the intent to better yourself. When you’re out in the real world you’re not just representing yourself. You are representing your friends, family, teammates, coaches and your university. That is what Joe Paterno is about. Excelling in education and dominating on the field.
The last few months were rough on the Paterno family, especially coach Joe. The disrespect from the Board of Trustees, the firing over the phone, and then the worst came – the lung cancer. Through all of this, coach remained tough and never let us see him sweat, just like I thought he would do. I made it imperative to visit his home every time I had the chance to. About three weeks ago I went to his house to check on him. Sue took me to his room and he was sitting on his bed. He greeted me with the biggest smile on his face. You would have thought that nothing was wrong with him. We talked and talked, and throughout the conversation he would reassure me that everything was going to be OK. I definitely believed him.
Toward the end, he left me with two things: a jar of gummi bears – he told me to use them for a midnight snack. Then he told me something that I will never forget. “I’m so glad I got a chance to coach you. You were one of the good ones. Thank you Daryll.” Then he kicked me out because he had to take a nap. The entire Paterno family will always have a place in my heart. Thank you for believing in me. Rest Peacefully Joe.