Marcus Baugh follows brother's lead

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- In looking at all 6 feet, 4 inches and 229 pounds of tight end Marcus Baugh, it's easy to assume that growing up he was the biggest and strongest kid. In watching the Riverside (Calif.) John W. North standout become the No. 127 overall player and No. 3 tight end-Y in the country, it's more difficult to guess that football wasn't always Baugh's first love.

He began playing when he was in elementary school, but after two years he could no longer make the weight limit. That wasn't the worst thing in the world for Baugh.

"Early on, I didn't like it," Baugh said of football. "I was kind of a baby. I didn't like the running -- it was just a lot of running. I didn't like getting hit. I didn't really like football."

Baugh concentrated on basketball, but eventually a push from close to home took him back to the gridiron.

"I remember watching my brother play when he was in high school and I wanted to be like him," Baugh said.

Baugh's older brother, Mike Clausen, was a quarterback and defensive back during his recently completed career at UNLV. On Tuesday, it was fitting that Baugh was honored during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game while Clausen looked on beside him. There's a chance that without Clausen, J.W. North would not have been a stop on the selection tour.

"Most of the stuff I did as a kid was because of him," Baugh said of Clausen. "I played basketball because he played. Our parents put us in sports, but most of the reason I stayed with it was because of him."

All the credit goes to Baugh, who "won the genetic lottery," according to his older, but not bigger, brother.

"He was always the biggest kid out there," Clausen said. "Once he could play, he played with kids much older than him and he dominated."

Though the age gap kept them separated through their athletic careers, Baugh continues to improve rapidly now because of it. After graduating from UNLV, Clausen took over as the offensive coordinator for the freshman team at J.W. North. He said he often rushes to finish practices so that he can spend extra time working with Baugh, throwing him passes or running conditioning drills alongside him.

"I know what the next level is like, and with the opportunity he has, I want him to be as prepared as possible for it," Clausen said.

But for Baugh, it was words his big brother said several years ago that most helped him to this position.

"A couple of years ago, we were talking and he opened my eyes to what I could be," Baugh said. "He said I had a lot of potential and I was better than he was as a high school athlete. That meant a lot to me, because when he was here he was really good. For him to say that makes me want to push myself harder."

Baugh caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and added 43 tackles, seven sacks and an interception. Eventually, the Ohio State verbal commitment pushed himself into position as the top tight end in the state and this past summer earned an invitation to January's Under Armour All-America Game. He said the decision to accept the invitation was an easy one, as he had been wanting to play in the game since he saw the combine and game during the year another California standout, quarterback Matt Barkley, participated.

"I was really excited," Baugh said of his invitation. "I couldn't believe I was actually going to play in the game."

On Tuesday, the idea of playing in the game became a little more solidified for Baugh as he was presented with the Under Armour Game jersey in front of friends, teammates and family.

"It's pretty important, coming from this [high] school, because a lot of great athletes came from this school" said Baugh, who mentioned former USC Trojans player and NFL linebacker Chris Claiborne as well as his older brother. "I just want to be like one of them and represent my school and city."