Goss: Local players making a splash in major college football
September 19, 2012 7:22PM
Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy (Joliet Catholic) will play in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game Feb. 2 and is a prospect for the NFL draft in April. | AP Photo
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:00PM
Both local players had reason to feel good about their performances before relatives and friends.
With Patrick Ward (Providence) at left tackle for Northwestern and Nick Clancy (Joliet Catholic) manning the middle linebacker post for Boston College, the two seniors not only crossed paths at times, they were vitally involved in what transpired Saturday in Evanston when Northwestern beat Boston College 22-13.
Ward, the regular at left tackle this season after two years starting on the right side, was a contributor to an offense that rang up 560 total yards and 34 first downs.
Still, the Wildcats (3-0) managed only one touchdown to go with five field goals. One reason they could not reach the end zone more often was the play of Clancy, who earned Atlantic Coast Conference Linebacker of the Week honors after collecting a career-high 24 tackles, 14 of them solo.
The 24 tackles are the second-most in school history and the highest total since Frank Chamberlin matched the school record with 25 against Syracuse in 1999. Clancy leads the ACC in tackles (43) and tackles per game (14.3) through three games for the Eagles (1-2).
There is no attempt here to cover every player from our area who is playing football on major college levels, but quite a few come to mind.
Ward’s brother, Ryan Ward (Providence), is a freshman offensive tackle at Iowa, while two other Providence graduates that local fans will remember, defensive back Troy Sheppard and running back Tim Hanrahan, join freshman running back Malin Jones (Joliet Catholic) and Patrick Ward on the Northwestern roster.
Andrew Starks (Plainfield North) is a senior captain and starting linebacker at Princeton (0-1), where he also is president of the Varsity Student Athletes Association. He has led the Tigers in tackles the past two seasons and was an All-Ivy League second-team selection last season.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Starks began this season in style last week with 11 tackles, including two for loss and seven solo, as Princeton threw a scare into highly regarded Lehigh before falling 17-14. Starks, a politics major, and the Tigers will be in action at 7 p.m. Friday when they take on Georgetown in an ESPN game.
Zach Colvin (Minooka) is a 6-2, 268-pound sophomore defensive end at Bowling Green State (1-2). He has five tackles, including three solo, plus a quarterback hurry. The Falcons are in action Saturday at Virginia Tech.
Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook), the 2011 Herald-News Defensive Player of the Year who had the misfortune of missing the semifinal and championship games as Bolingbrook surged to the Class 8A state championship, is in the regular rotation at linebacker as a freshman at Florida (3-0). In fact, he is one of the team’s top tacklers with 12 solos and 14 total, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
Morrison enrolled in January, went through spring drills with the Gators and earned an immediate spot on the field for one of the nation’s top programs.
To say redshirt senior Jake Wieclaw (Lincoln-Way Central) has been consistent with his placekicking at Miami would be an understatement. In three games for the Hurricanes (2-1), he is 5-of-5 on field goals and 11-of-11 on extra points. In 2011, he finished 11-of-14 on field goals and 39-of-39 on extra points for two-season totals of 16-of-19 and 50-of-50, respectively.
After rushing for 101 yards in a 45-14 loss to Arizona State, Illinois redshirt Josh Ferguson (Joliet Catholic) missed last week’s Illinois game against Charleston Southern because of a concussion. He may play this week against Louisiana Tech.
Also for the Illini, senior Zak Pedersen (Joliet Catholic) is the regular long-snapper and senior Graham Pocic (Lemont) is a regular in the offensive line at guard or center, although he is nursing a knee injury that leaves his status uncertain for Saturday.
Pete Houlihan (Providence) is a junior cornerback and kick returner at Eastern Illinois (1-2). He has played in two games and has 13 tackles, one for a loss of five yards and nine solos. He also returned a pass interception 17 yards and has returned four kickoffs for an 18.8 average.
Junior cornerback Dominique Ware (Plainfield North) has seen some playing time for Northern Illinois (2-1). He has three tackles. Sophomore Running back Cameron Stingily (Romeoville) joins Ware on the NIU roster.
Freshman second-team middle linebacker Pat Meehan (Lincoln-Way East) has four tackles and two quarterback hurries through three games for Illinois State (3-0). Redbirds junior Brandon Westphal (Bolingbrook) has seen action as a reserve outside linebacker, and freshman running back Nick Bellamy (Lincoln-Way West) has carried three times for nine yards.
Sliding down to the NAIA level if we may, junior linebacker Zach Dolph (Joliet Catholic) enjoyed a huge game Saturday in No. 1 St. Xavier’s 37-7 victory over Langston (Okla.), earning NAIA National and Mid-States Football Association Defensive Player of the Week accolades. Dolph made 14 tackles, including eight solo and five for loss. He had three sacks, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Overall for St. Xavier (3-0) he has a team-leading 32 tackles with 71/2 for loss and three sacks.
More updates on area players to come as the season continues.