By RICK PETERSON
Former Shawnee Heights standout Christian Clark has found a home in Washburn University's defensive backfield, with the 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior playing in 21 games with 15 starts at cornerback.
But Clark hasn't forgotten his roots as a running back and would love to get a chance to re-live those days.
"I do miss being a running back, I' m not going to lie,'' Clark said. "I'm hoping I get to show off my running back skills at some point throughout the season on an interception or a fumble recovery, whatever it is, but I definitely miss being a running back and scoring touchdowns.''
However, Clark also embraces his role for the Washburn defense since joining the Ichabods for the 2019 season after a year at William Penn (Iowa).
"I think it just keeps me engaged every single play because playing corner, all it takes is one play to give up a touchdown so you've got to bring it every play, you can't take plays off,'' he said.
"Personally it just makes me have to become more of a competitor and really just have to embrace those one on one battles I have throughout the game.''
Washburn lost standout senior safety Kevin Neal Jr. for the season in the first quarter of the first game of the season against Lincoln (ACL injury) and Clark said that the other Ichabods have had to take up the slack.
"He was definitely a big leader on this team, vocally especially,'' Clark said. "He's still around so he's still able to do those things, but it's caused other seniors and guys like myself to step up and take charge and keep the morale of the team up,'' Clark said.
Clark has helped the Ichabods post a 3-1 record entering Saturday's 4 p.m. MIAA contest against rival Emporia State at Yager Stadium, including a huge fourth-quarter interception in last week's 38-31 overtime win at Missouri Western.
"I'll definitely remember that one,''' Clark said. "That was my second career pick and I'm going to remember all the picks I have in college. I remember all the picks I had in high school, so any interception is big.
"That one was big because the play right before that we fumbled on offense and we had to come out there spur of the moment and were able to give (the ball) right back to them. That was big for our team and we scored two plays after that so it was a crucial turnover. On defense I like having the ball because you're not really supposed to have the ball, so it's fun that way.''
Clark will finish up his mass media degree with an emphasis in creative advertising this fall before returning for his final season of eligibility in the 2023 season.
An with every passing game Clark, who has posted 42 career tackles with 11 pass breakups, knows that his decision to come home to Topeka after his one seasson away was a great one.
"I came at first because I wanted some better competition and Washburn being in the same city as where I went to high school was an easy move to make,'' Clark said. "But since being here they've really embraced me, I feel like the coaching staff has really helped me improve as a player and I just really appreciate where I am right now.''