Spotlight on Former Athlete: Clarence Glenn - Football 1982-85
Glenn made his presence known for Cajuns
By Bruce Brown
Clarence Glenn shook his head in wonder, recalling some of the players he was asked to stop as a member of USL's Ragin' Cajun secondary from 1982-85.
Foremost among those was Auburn's Bo Jackson, who nearly won the Heisman Trophy with one televised 290-yard rushing effort against the Cajuns in1985.
“You can't imagine how tough it was to play against Bo,” Glenn said. “I was pretty fast, thought I could cover ground, but …
“I was playing safety, and it was my job to keep up with anything in the running game. I was reading him. They pitched it to him for a sweep. I was with him, here (gesturing with his hands), and I looked up and he was here (gesturing again, two feet away).
“And that changed the whole plan.”
The final that day was 49-7, Tigers.
Later that season, USL visited Florida, and got acquainted with Emmitt Smith, the eventual all-time NFL rushing leader. Final, 45-0, Gators.
Still later, in a two-year turn with the Detroit Lions, Glenn had the dubious privilege of practicing against Barry Sanders.
“To me, Emmitt was good, but he wasn't out there like Bo and Barry,” Glenn said. “He had the best line in the league in Dallas for a while, and did a good job running behind them.
“Bo was just amazing. Barry was an easy-going guy, just like me and you.”
Just to round out the picture, Glenn was a roommate of former LSU star Garry James with the Lions.
Glenn roamed the secondary for the Cajuns for four years under coach Sam Robertson and a solid defensive staff, seeing action from the 1982 opener at Rice and building from there.
“I don't know if Sam started me at Rice because I was from Houston or what, but I started,” Glenn recalled of the 21-14 USL victory sparked by Clarence Verdin's opening kickoff return touchdown.
“I played as a freshman, then started for three years. It was probably my sophomore year when I felt I belonged. I was settled in, confident, knew the system. I played safety or cornerback. Didn't matter. We rotated a lot.
“I think if I'd had a fifth year, development wise, I would have been better, A redshirt year would have been good. But I was thrown into the fire. With a fifth year, I think I would have been an All-American.
Next in Line?
“I tell my son Caleb (a current Cajun) that he has an advantage I didn't have after redshirting his freshman year. They moved him to cornerback in the spring and did well in the few drills they had. He's 6-3, 185, and works so hard.”
Caleb Glenn is a redshirt senior for the Cajuns this fall, a Dean's List pre-med major who obviously has his focus in place.
Younger brother, Christian, is 12 and already has shown special athletic skills.
Oldest brother, Nick, is a chef in Colorado.
The two youngest offspring of Clarence Glenn and wife LaKeta benefit from a gene pool featuring Clarence's skills and Laketa's All-American long jump talent while at Auburn.
“My best friend (former Cajun basektball guard) Brian Jolivette, introduced us at a Christmas party,” Glenn said.
The Cajuns and other college teams were robbed of their usual spring drills by the Coronavirus Pandemic, painting the 2020 season with an odd hue, but Caleb has been focused along with his teammates.
“I think they'll be able to play,” Glenn said. “But you have to have a lot of discipline to keep training like you need to. Caleb trains every day, and is doing great. I think if they start back in July they'll be OK.
“Spring is usually where you find out what you've got. We'll see.”
Robertson and his Cajun staff liked what they had in Glenn, a star quarterback-defensive back in high school, so much that he was quickly in the regular rotation on defense.
He helped USL to a 7-3-1 record in 1982, 4-6 in '83, 6-5 in '84 and 4-7 as a senior in 1985 – a 21-21-1 mark overall.
Glenn had his most impact as a junior (32 punt returns, 172 yards; one pass interception) and senior (37-239-1 punt returns; team-best four interceptions for 52 yards and another score).
“Sam was a people person,” Glenn said. “You could go in and talk with him about anything, especially my freshman year, when I wanted to go back home. We had a hell of a defensive staff (headed by Dave Dunkelberger) and at one point had Lynn Amedee running the offense.
“I loved coach Dunk. He would get on you in practice, call you all sorts of names. Practice today is nothing like when we played. We would hit – I mean hit – every practice, and would practice two, three times a day.
“Receivers would talk so much during practice, and we'd try to take their heads off.”
(Assistants) Jerry Beach, Brad Roll, Dave Culley and others have kept in touch, as have dozens of other players from different eras. Glenn was a key mover in the Gridiron Alumni group.
“I did that for 24 years,” he said. “We would feed the players two or three times a year. Now Super One Foods has taken that over. We have big texting groups. I may get back into the annual golf event soon.”
That would be fitting because golf is Glenn's passion now, playing whenever he can with ex-Cajuns Brian Mitchell, Jolivette and others.
Cajuns like Chris Gannon, Peter Batton, Marius Haydel, Steve Spinella, Verdin, Elton Slater, Dwight Prudhomme, Donnie Wallace and others remain attached to the program.
Most from the 1980's remember Glenn, who finished with 131 tackles (99 solo) and five interceptions.
A Day to Remember
Glenn also put together perhaps the best game any Cajun defender has ever had.
In the third game of 1985 at Louisiana Tech, he set up a touchdown with a fumble recovery, set up a field goal with a 29-yard punt return, returned an interception 28 yard for a touchdown to draw USL within 17-24 and dashed 64 yards with a punt return to make it 23-24.
The Cajuns failed on a hurry-up two-point conversion attempt, losing 23-24, but Glenn was named the AP Defensive Player of the Week for his jaw-dropping effort which included eight tackles and a quarterback sack.
“I enjoyed playing against Tech,” Glenn said. “I respected them. I didn't like Northeast Louisiana (now UL-Monroe).”
Rugged scheduling took its toll on USL's won-loss record, but Glenn would stack some his 1980's teammates up against current personnel.
“Players from my era had a lot of talent,” Glenn said. “We would get to the edge, but never get over. Now they're going to bowl games. A lot of money has been put in the program.”
Today, he is a 24-year captain in the Lafayette Fire Department who has also dabbled in oil field service company work and lawn and landscape pursuits.
The fireman role seems to suit him.
“I kind of wish I had done this when I got out of college,” Glenn said. “You work nine days a month, 24-hour shifts. You get to work out, stay in shape. It's absolutely like a team, very rewarding.”
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Click here for the Tailgating Photo Gallery of the Oct. 8, 2010 ESPN Friday Night Game of the Cajuns vs. Oklahoma State.
Clarence and Lakita and the Gridiron Group are in the first two photos posted in the gallery.
* * * * * * Click here for Clarence Glenn's Athletic Network Profile.
* * * * * * Click here for the 2007-present chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.