Clark to take redshirt year

University of Central Arkansas quarterback Zak Clark will redshirt this season because of the broken finger he suffered in preseason practice, UCA head coach Clint Conque said Wednesday.

?Although he has been cleared to play medically,? Conque said, ?it has been a policy of mine since becoming head coach to never risk short-term gain at the potential of long-term injury. That?s in our mission statement we give the players every fall camp.?

?This decision will allow Zak?s finger to completely heal and it will give him the benefit of another off-season, spring practice and fall camp to prepare for a full senior season.?

Clark, who transferred from the University of Arkansas in January 2002, has not had a redshirt year. He broke the knuckle of his right (throwing) hand in the first week of practice this fall and has missed all three of the Bears? games.

?Although it was a very, very difficult decision for the Clark family, the coaching staff and all involved,? Conque said, ?we feel like this is the best for Zak, and long term for the program. And I would have to think that next year, he?ll come in as one of the top returning quarterbacks in college football.?

Clark was a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist last year and set a state collegiate single-season record with 3,157 passing yards.

Henry Young, a 5-foot-11, 204-pound junior from Baton Rouge, La., has started UCA?s three games this season and has completed 56 of 97 passes for 642 yards, with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Young has been in the UCA program for three years since transferring from Louisiana Tech, where he played under Conque.

?We are very confident in Henry Young,? Conque said. ?He?s coming of a career-best performance (last Saturday) and he has a firm grasp of the system. And now he doesn?t have to be looking over his shoulder for the remainder of the year. This is his team now.?

Young completed 23 of 33 for 332 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the Bears? 28-23 loss to Henderson State last Saturday. The backup for the Bears (2-1) is Chris Reil, a sophomore who transferred from Northwest Louisiana and played previously at Henderson State in 2000. Reil has completed 2 of 7 passes with two interceptions.

UCA travels to Arkadelphia to face Ouachita Baptist at 7 p.m. Saturday.