Saddleback College is quickly becoming "Linebacker-U" of the junior college ranks and this year should be no different, as one linebacker has had his phone ringing off the hook in recent weeks.
Saddleback has sent four linebackers on to play Division I football in the past two years and Zach Clarke figures to be the fifth.
Clarke was heavily recruited until ripping up his ACL during his junior season at Mission Viejo High School. Before the injury, every school in the Pac-10 except USC had Clarke on the radar screen. After the injury, the phone stopped ringing as all the scouts considered him damaged goods.
He spent his senior year playing on the defensive line at Mission Viejo before heading to Saddleback in 2004 to reclaim the attention of scouts and prove that he is still a prime time linebacker.
"My knee is stronger than ever right now," Clarke said. "I forgot I even hurt it."
Clarke's knee apparently has healed as he recently ran just over 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at a workout for scouts. Mississippi State, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, San Diego State and Auburn all inquired about his services following the workout.
"I'm pretty open right now," Clarke said. "If I had to make a wish list I'd probably say Mississippi State, Cal or Oregon State."
Clarke is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and benches 340 pounds. He was a second team all-Mission Conference National Division player as a freshman at Saddleback, leading the Gauchos with 73 total tackles during the regular season.
Clarke was a qualifier out of high school and will likely transfer out in December.