With the recent news that senior defensive tackle Wayne Williams has left the Syracuse University football program, Tim Daoust’s defensive line suddenly finds itself in dire need of fresh blood. With Isaiah Johnson being forced to hang up his cleats due to injury and Jalen Harvey transferring from the program, the Orange are pretty thin on the interior of the line. Suddenly, defensive tackle recruits Steven Clark and Tyler Cross became two of the most important players in the 2015 recruiting class.
Both Clark (6-foot-3, 296) and Cross (6-foot-2, 285) were already big wins on the recruiting trail, with the Orange holding off Florida for Clark and Wake Forest for Cross, and chances were pretty good that one or both would have found his way onto the field this season, but with the attrition on the line, it’s not so much a matter of if they’ll get on the field, but when. Steven and Ty were good enough to do a quick little Q&A with me after word came out that their path to playing time just got a little shorter.
OG: So what have you guys been doing to prepare yourselves for the transition from high school to college football?
Clark: I’ve been making sure I’m working out and running as much as I can to make the transition a lot easier.
Cross: I have been doing a lot of running literally every day. I hear that college football is faster so that’s been my main focus, being in shape and working on my quickness.
OG: What are you anticipating being the biggest challenges – either mental or physical – in being ready to play immediately?
Cross: A lot of things, like leaving home. I’ve been in the south my whole life and I am a big family person so that will be a challenge, mentally adjusting to not having family around, also trusting in God’s will and His purpose for me. Physical? The running we have to do. We will have to run 15, 110 yard sprints in 18 seconds. That’s going to be kind of tough physically and mentally. I just have to get around the concept that I will never be running 110 yards in the game, and once I get over that process I think I would be good.
Clark: I think the biggest challenge will be learning the speed of the game and adapting to it.
OG: With the recent attrition at DT, does that change your mindset as you get closer to heading to campus? Suddenly, you’ve gone from “will probably play” to “will almost certainly play.”
Clark: I think it will change my mindset because I knew I was going to have to go out and compete for a spot, and now that the situation calls for me to play early I’ll have to go in with a mentality that if I fail I’ll fail everybody that was counting on me, and I don’t like to fail.
Cross: I always trained as if I was playing this fall because you never know when an opportunity is open. So why not be ready!
OG: Switching gears…outside of football, what are you most looking forward to about college life at Syracuse?
Cross: The people. I love meeting new people. I think that’s what makes your college experience: the people you surround yourself with!
Clark: Oh man, I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates and other people from around the country and around the world. It’s going to be really exciting.
OG: And now for the important questions. Have you guys figured out what you’ll be doing at the freshman talent show in camp?
Clark: I have no clue who im going to be doing it with. I’ll have to see who needs a partner, but it’s going to be interesting.
Cross: Umm, I kind of have an idea. I have hosted freshman talent shows at my house when I was captain of my team, so I have a lot of ideas of what me and whoever’s in my group would do. I know for a fact we will win, just saying.
OG: Okay, this one requires a little bit of explaining. A month or two ago, your fellow freshmen Jake Pickard and Sam Clausman were going back and forth about Brian Bosworth’s haircut on Twitter, and some way or another, I wound up suggesting* they do the Oklahoma Drill, with the winner getting to cut the loser’s hair. So, who do you have? Pickard or Clausman? Any suggestions for a hairstyle for the loser?
Cross: I’m 100% going with my guy Jake Pickard. No shade on Sam, but Jake is a defense guy, of course I’m rooting for him. When Pickard wins I think Sam should get a Mohawk dyed orange, with Jake’s initials on the side of his head.
Clark: That’s a tough decision because Pickard is good, but Sam is so much bigger than Pickard that I think if Sam gets a hold of him, Pickard is done. I’m thinking like a sideways Mohawk or something crazy like that.
*unless the SU coaches catch wind and are not fans of this idea, in which case I had nothing to do with it, and I have no idea who actually did, don’t look at me, no sir
Check out Steven’s highlights:
And here are Tyler’s: