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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan freshman Frank Clark 'Tootsee Rolls' his way into Sugar Bowl spotlight

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan freshman linebacker Frank Clark celebrates with teammates after intercepting Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

Melanie Maxwell I

Frank Clark went to the left, to the left. To the right, to the right.

He slid right into the biggest play of his life, and then let his tootsee roll.

The freshman defensive end, forced into increased duty in the Sugar Bowl due to a litany of injuries, came up with a majestic third-quarter interception of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. The play proved to be pivotal in the Michigan football team's 23-20 overtime win against the Hokies.

The 18-year-old credited his pregame routine for helping to get his mind right before the big game: The "Toosee Roll," a hip hop song and dance popularized in the early 1990s.

"I listen to that song before every game," Clark said in the locker room shortly after the game. "That gets me right, basically.

"That’s all I think about when I’m on the field, the Tootsee Roll. I dance a lot, and I'm just basically having fun."

He had plenty of it against the Hokies, whom Michigan beat last week to capture the school's first BCS title since the 1999 season.


Frank Clark tries to escape Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas after intercepting his pass in the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

Melanie Maxwell |

Clark spent much of the season buried on the depth chart behind Craig Roh and Jibreel Black at weak-side defensive end, but slowly worked his way into the rotation. His big break came before the Purdue game, when coach Brady Hoke said Clark had done enough to earn more playing time.

But he saved his biggest act for the Sugar Bowl, when he leaped in front of Thomas to bat down a pass. Only, the ball also stuck to his left hand. He brought around his right hand to secure the ball against his body and complete the interception.

The freshman said it is the best play of his career, at any level.

"There hasn’t been a stage I’ve played on bigger than this," Clark said, "and making that play, in this game, I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life. Whether I never play football again, next season, whatever -- I’m always going to remember this one."

Clark played in all but one game this season, recording 10 tackles and the one interception. He is expected to play a more pronounced role next season, when Michigan loses three starting defensive linemen, including end Ryan Van Bergen.

But, he was thrust into action against Virginia Tech due to a rash of injuries. Starter Will Heininger and reserve Nathan Brink did not play at all, then Van Bergen suffered a leg injury during the game and needed longer breaks than usual.

Michigan compensated by varying its defensive alignments, rarely playing the same personnel package on consecutive plays. Clark was inserted as part of that fluidity, and he delivered.

"The whole week, I just had a good vibe about it," Clark said. "Actually, starting a few weeks back, when we started practicing against the Virginia Tech offense, I had a great vibe about the whole thing, from studying and being in tune with the whole game plan."

His interception set up Michigan's final touchdown of the game, an 18-yard pass from Denard Robinson to Junior Hemingway in the back of the end zone.

"Not too many true freshman get this kind of opportunity to play on this stage," Clark said. "The Sugar Bowl? We talkin’ about the Sugar Bowl, man."

It'll put Clark, and his tootsee, on a roll heading into the offseason.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:24 a.m.

I think Clark will be the best edge rusher UM fields next year. He already has exceptional speed for the position, just needs to add some weight. As a freshman, thats not a terrible problem to have.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Heartbreak: He's from Cleveland, OH. Recruited as a LB. Only a 3 star but had good speed. But on 18 pounds since he graduated HS. Now up to 228. Looks like he could add another 10 before next year.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

thanks. Another Ohio steal!!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

Perhaps the single greatest individual defensive play since Woodson's "climbing the ladder" pick against lil' brother in EL. That was something you would typically only see on Sundays. Tootsie Roll all the way to the QB every play Clark. Great job! Glad we have this guy for 3 more years.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Hello one, Hello all, Frank Clark will shine this fall, Will he sing or will he dance? Will he pose a heisman stance? MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football will rock in tweny-twelve!! With the crystal, Heisman, RIMington, and Outland on our shelve!! By the way....Happy MEAN New Year to all true MEEEEEEEANchigan fans....and in the kindred spirit a happy new year to all members of the MCC Ann Arbor chapter 52-14. I have scheduled Ivan Putski to speak at your next meeting on the topic of the Al Borges P90 X diet plan and the NasCARR offense!!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Where is he from? Is he another one of the Ohio recruits? Coaches have sure been high on him. Can't wait to see him get even better.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

That was probably the most amazing defensive play I've seen by a Michigan player in a number of years. It was a huge play in the game too since it killed a potential VT scoring drive and regained momentum in Michigan's favor. I hope Mr. Clark has a lot more plays like that in his future!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Awesome story! Frank Clark is self motivated, and the tootsee roll was on point on that play! We got some great things going on here! Our teams are going to be pumped up more than our opponent next year...isn't that the key? GO BLUE!

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.