WAUKOMIS, Okla. —
Here’s a quick look behind the scenes.
There’s a checklist to interviewing any player for the first time, but especially a football player. Not because they’re somehow different from, say, a basketball or volleyball player, but because what they wear, obviously, is.
Long story short: football players wear pads and helmets and when in full garb are effectively unrecognizable aside from a uniform number. So when that comes off, or worse, if their practice jersey has a different number than what’s in the program -- this can get really tricky -- grabbing the right player is at best a bit of an art form and at worst like finding a needle in a stack of needles on a conveyor belt.
With Charles Clardy, this wasn’t a problem.
Pioneer’s 6-foot-6, 230-pound defensive and tight end is just bigger than everyone else. Not just on the Mustangs’ roster, but pretty much everyone he lines up against.
First off: WHY ISN’T HE PLAYING BASKETBALL?!
Pioneer’s front court is already bigger than just about any in 2A with 6-foot-10 Colby Koontz and 6-foot-3 Blake Gabriel, but would be downright hilarious if Clardy was added to the mix.
“I just never came out (for basketball) my freshman year,” Clardy said. “I liked it, but I just wanted to focus on football.”
Still, Clardy’s size is a ridiculous commodity in the mostly smallish realm of Class A football. Enough of one that Division II and to a smaller degree, some Division I programs, have taken notice.
That started when Clardy was just a sophomore, when Division II Fort Hays State (Kan.) spotted him while on a routine scouting trip. Since then, Clardy has gotten bigger and better; enough to draw some superlative praise from Pioneer coach Kurt Myers.
“He’s got all the tools,” Myers said. “He’s a great pass rusher -- probably the best pass rusher I’ve ever coached. He’s got Division I size, and he’s a really good athlete.”
Clardy said he’s gotten more looks from Fort Hays State, was invited to a camp at Oklahoma State in Stillwater and once had a voicemail from the University of Alabama, but the senior hasn’t drawn an offer yet. He needs to get stronger, he said, and he could stand to be better conditioned.
But a shot at the next level would be well worth it.
“It’d be like finally playing against somebody that can really challenge me -- I’m not saying I’m not being challenged now, but I’d like to play somebody my own size and really get a feel for it at that level.”