A chip off the old block
After being asked when the turning point was after a loss to Duke University in the 1950s, then-Clemson football coach Frank Howard responded, “It was three years ago when I didn’t recruit any half backs.”
The late Frank Howard would become known for his funny quips, but it was winning that made him famous and helped transform Clemson into one of college football’s most storied programs.
The colorful Howard was at the helm for the Tigers from 1940-1969 and in that time compiled a 165-118-12 record, won two Southern Conference championships, six ACC titles and led his teams to six bowl games from 1949-59.
Howard’s legacy can be found on the Avenue of Champions in Clemson, S.C. where the Tigers spend fall Saturday’s playing in the Memorial Coliseum on Frank Howard Field.
A piece of Howard’s legacy can also be found right here in Washington, usually crouched in a three-point stance protecting Pam Pack quarterbacks on Friday nights wearing the No. 67.
Standing at 6-2, 290 pounds, Washington’s Montgomery McClure is the great grandson of Howard, and there is no doubt the Pam Pack offensive lineman is a chip off the old block.
While his big frame is a dead give away that football runs in his family, Howard’s personality definitely has attached itself to McClure’s DNA.
“We’re all pretty goofy,” McClure said with a smile. “(Washington coach) Sport Sawyer pretty much thinks I’m a goofball.”
Like his great grandfather, who was a 185-pound guard on the Alabama football team from 1928-30, McClure is as quick with a joke as he is to burst across the line of scrimmage for a block.
At Pam Pack practices Sawyer will sometimes conduct Oklahoma-style drills, which have become known as what we will just refer to as “heart” and vinegar sessions. After several requests to see more “heart” and vinegar, McClure gave Sawyer a special Christmas present last year: two jars that figuratively contained “heart” and vinegar.
“He’s a funny guy,” Sawyer said. “He’s got a good personality and is very liked by the players. He don’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s a good guy.”
McClure, a future civil engineer major, is not so bad on the field either.
“He’s one of the senior’s on the offensive line and him and Dillon Cutler anchor that offensive line,” Sawyer said.
Howard, who was born on March 25, 1909, passed away on January 26, 1996 when McClure was a child. However, the Pam Pack senior has tried his best to familiarize himself with his great grandfather.
“I was like two when he died so I don’t really know him that well,” McClure said. “But I’ve read books about him and I’ve seen a few films of him coaching, that’s about it … He seemed like a cool guy. I think of him as just a good ol’ boy, he was from Alabama.”
Howard, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989, isn’t the only big-name coach in the family. McClure’s cousin is Robbie Caldwell, the former Vanderbilt head coach and current offensive line coach at Clemson.
McClure said he is fueled by his family’s football tradition, not burdened by it.
“I think it pushes me more because I have to carry on the tradition,” McClure said. “But there’s not really pressure, my family supports me in whatever I want to do.”
While there are several football lessons that can be learned from Howard, McClure said playing with passion is the one he holds dearest.
“Just to go out and play your best,” McClure said. “Go out and leave it all on the field.”