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No end to Clutts heart

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

Tyler Clutts is undersized for a defensive end. He consistently goes up against offensive tackles that are routinely several inches taller and usually 50 or 60 pounds heavier.

The 245-pound Fresno State star has proven that size isn’t everything over the past three seasons. What he lacks in size, he makes up with speed, athleticism, work ethic and a heart as big as the Grand Canyon.

That has paid off in some pretty decent numbers in his first two years as a starter. Clutts has produced 89 tackles, including 21 behind the line and 14 sacks (7 each season. He needs one sack this year to move into Fresno State’s top-10 all-time.

Clutts likens himself to former South Tahoe and FSU star Garrett McIntyre, who was a two-time all-WAC performer and somewhat undersized himself. That means attention to detail and proper techniques are a must.

“My mentor (McIntyre) was not as big or fast as the guys he played against,” Clutts said. “That’s what made Garrett so successful. He made things happen with his speed and technique. He never quit on a play.”

That’s the motor that people keep talking about. When the 49ers were in their defensive heyday, defensive coaches talked about Pierce Holt and his ability to make things happen because of his motor. Howie Long had good size, but it was his motor that allowed him to make plays. Whether he was 1-on-1 or double-teamed, that motor never stopped until the whistle blew, and if you know the Raiders’ players sometimes it didn’t stop then.

“He’s relentless,” coach Pat Hill said. “His motor is always going. He plays hard every play and has a big heart.

“He has played a lot of (good) football for us. He has good techniques and understands what he’s doing.”

First and foremost, Clutts wants the Bulldogs to become a dominant team which they were just two short years ago. The memories of last year’s 4-8 season still linger, and Clutts hopes they will become even more distant or disappear entirely this season.

“It was emotionally draining,” Clutts said. “We learned from it, though. You have to forget about it. I learned not to dwell on it.”

Clutts hopes he has a career in the NFL next year, and he knows that he’ll either have to possibly switch positions and be a linebacker or bulk up some to stay at defensive end. He could be effective in a 3-4 set-up as a pass-rushing linebacker.

“I’d love to (play),” Clutts said. “It’s definitely a longshot. It would be getting to do something I love to do. I’ve played this game for too long not to want that.”

Clutts said he doesn’t pattern his play after any NFL star in particular, but likes Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins and John Randle, who starred for many years with the Vikings and Seattle.

“He (Randle) was a great pass rusher,” Clutts said. “I liked his style of play.”

Clutts’ style is fast – all the time.