Better Know A Buckeye: James Clark

By Vico on July 24, 2013 at 10:00a
42 Comments

Eleven Warriors presents Better Know a Buckeye 2013

The twenty-third, and penultimate, installment of the fifth edition of this now 24-part series profiles James Clark, a wide receiver prospect from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Clark was an eleventh hour discovery by Ohio State, which only offered Clark in the second week of January 2013. His courtship with Ohio State lasted all of three weeks before National Letter of Intent Day.

James Clark on signing dayJames Clark

For that matter, he was also an eleventh hour recruiting battle between Florida and Ohio State. While Clark had a lengthy recruitment before being discovered by both Will Muschamp and Urban Meyer, the introduction of both these programs into James Clark's recruitment substantially altered his recruitment's trajectory. This is retold below.

The feature proceeds in the usual fashion thereafter. I mention strengths and areas for improvement for James Clark as a future wide receiver. I provide some some highlights and a projection of redshirt status. I include some various tidbits about Clark you may find interesting before concluding he is better known. I put him on the board thereafter.

Height: 5-10
Weight: 175lbs
Fake 40: 4.45
High School: New Smyrna Beach High School; New Smyrna Beach, FL

His Recruitment

Most Ohio State fans, even those who diligently follow Ohio State's recruiting of college football prospects, did not know who Clark was before Ohio State extended a scholarship offer on the weekend of January 12-13, this year. That was less than a month before National Letter of Intent Day before Ohio State's coaches first contacted James Clark. While that was Ohio State fans' first introduction to James Clark, he did have a protracted recruitment before then. He was on the radar of numerous programs, especially across the Midwest, before Ohio State's scholarship offer changed the trajectory of his recruitment.

This treatment here will be brief. Before his recruitment took a different course in January 2013, Clark seemed focused on three schools. All happened to be in the Big Ten. Northwestern worked hard on recruiting James Clark when they discovered him in the late spring of 2012. By that time, Clark already had offers from Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, Mississippi State, Penn State, Purdue, and Vanderbilt, among others. The Northwestern offer was appealing to Clark, who already had a 3.9 GPA in high school. Northwestern's academic profile, as well as its reputation as a "spread" program, interested Clark. His official visit to Northwestern came on December 7, 2012. Clark rated the visit a "ten".

Purdue also interested James Clark. It interested him enough to take an unofficial vist to West Lafayette in July. He later returned in October for an unofficial visit during the weekend of the Wisconsin game. The Boilermakers lost 38-14, but the result did not diminish Clark's evaluation of the Boilermakers. He enjoyed his visit, to the point of saying he knew more of Purdue than he did any other program recruiting him to this point. A high school teammate, Raheem Mostert, is on Purdue's squad and hosted him during his official visit.

Finally, Nebraska, a later entrant into the James Clark sweepstakes, attracted Clark enough to get him to visit. The timing was fortunate. Nebraska offered on December 10 and happened to be in Orlando preparing for its bowl game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Clark, who is from nearby New Smyrna Beach, visited the Huskers' bowl practice. He later made an official visit to Lincoln on the same weekend that Ohio State offered. Clark said this visit went "great".

Clark's recruitment changed when Ohio State offered. That said, it may not necessarily have been the Ohio State offer that was the turning point in his recruitment.  Ohio State was one of a flurry of offers coming to James Clark in late December and early January. These included offers from programs like Auburn, Clemson, and Tennessee. Arguably, the biggest offer that came during this time was Florida. Florida discovered James Clark late into their recruiting process as well and extended its own scholarship to Clark, approximately a week before Ohio State entered the fray.

Both offers, from Florida and Ohio State, soon became the turning point in Clark's recruitment. What followed was a brief, but intense, recruitment that also featured Clemson as a bit of a "third wheel" during this time. Clark had scheduled an official visit to Clemson of which he did not want to cancel. However, communication with Ohio State's coaches, and prospects of an in-home visit by Tom Herman and Urban Meyer, encouraged Clark to make a subtle, but important change in his recruitment. He would still honor his word to Clemson to take an official visit. However, his visit to Gainesville would be unofficial. Therefore, he could take an official visit to Ohio State on January 25, two days after the in-home visit from Meyer. Without this decision, Clark could not visit Ohio State because he had already used three of five official visits on Northwestern, Purdue, and Nebraska and had committed to use the fourth on Clemson.

Ohio State fans following these developments knew this would be a signing day decision for Clark. Too much was happening too quickly at too late a time for Clark to make a choice before National Letter of Intent Day. His visit to Ohio State was action-packed. Ohio State's coaches tried to include as many activities as they could for Clark's short visit on campus. This included walking through the Horseshoe and having ample conversation with Tom Herman, Urban Meyer, and Zach Smith. A week later, Clark visited Florida on an unofficial visit, his last of several unofficial visits.

Where would James Clark commit? Ohio State fans did not have a solid idea which way he was trending. They would not have their answer until a press conference on National Letter of Intent Day.

His Commitment

On National Letter of Intent Day, James Clark announced he would be signing with Ohio State.

When asked "why Ohio State?" over other opportunities, Clark accentuated the opportunities both on and off the field at Ohio State.

“Ohio state provided the best opportunity to be successful on the field and for life after football,” Clark said. “It’s a place I felt happy at.

 

“It was really hard. Florida is a great school. Ohio State, I felt it was the right place for me. Coach Meyer told me, ‘Don’t come to Ohio State unless I was ready to make grown man moves. That’s what I had to do.”

Clark said he became very close to Meyer during the recruitment process.

 

“Coach Meyer and I are very close. He’s like a second dad for me.”

The Daytona Beach Journal revealed that while Ohio State fans were pleasantly surprised with the decision, Ohio State's coaches were given a heads-up before the ceremony.

James Clark knew he would be an Ohio State Buckeye long before he rose to his feet Wednesday in the packed auditorium at New Smyrna Beach High and told the rest of the world.

 

Ohio State knew, too, because, Clark said, he called Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer on Sunday and gave him a “silent commitment.”

And Clark said Meyer's reaction was unforgettable.

 

“He said, ‘Hang on a minute, I need to give my wife the phone so I can do some backflips,' ” Clark said.

Smiling wide, he added, “He's pretty athletic.”

James Clark in a signing day photo shoot.

Where He Excels

Ohio State fans watching Clark's highlight film, perhaps optimistically, compared it to Santonio Holmes' film coming from Belle Glades, Florida. Maybe that is optimistic, or premature, or perhaps unfair expectations, but Clark does demonstrate a lot of potential to be a very good wide receiver for the Buckeyes.

It is rather curious that Clark's relatively meager star rankings belie his offer sheet. Programs like Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, and Ohio State do not recruit chumps. Yet, Clark went without the postseason all-star exhibition tour that most top prospects with his offers usually do.

There are times when he looks like a man among boys on the field. It is most evident in his speed. I have not been able to discern from limited film his "get off" on the line of scrimmage, but the top end speed is certainly there. Plus, it gets there quickly. His proverbial "fast" is very fast. As a junior, he ran a 21.51 200m dash and a 10.43 100m dash in high school. The latter of the two times were among the best times of any high school athlete in the country that year. He is also very shifty with the ball in his hand. I do not think he is quite the talent that Dontre Wilson is on that regard, but the talent is still there.

Make no mistake: this is a speed pick for Ohio State. I think it is also a very good one.

Must Work On

A common criticism for "speed" wide receivers is that they tend to be behind the curve on a lot of other aspects of the game. His routes lack precision. It is very important at the college level to use the route itself to create separation, and not rely on just inherent speed advantages. Further, I see enough potential for Clark as an X receiver who can get on the line of scrimmage, but I see room for improvement as well. At 5-10, 175 pounds, he will never be a true X receiver, though he can play that role. I also do not see diligence, or really any film, of how well he blocks for the run game. This is critical for spread teams. Blocking wide receivers were a big reason for Oregon's success under Chip Kelly and were a big reason for Texas A&M's success last season.

Highlights

Senior year.

Redshirt?

Ohio State has a glut of wide receivers, but not a glut of known commodities. While it is cliché to say Urban Meyer does not want freshmen to redshirt, I find it very likely that all wide receivers in this class find something to do on the gridiron in at least a small, but regular, capacity this season. James Clark should play.

Miscellany

  • New Smyrna Beach is adjacent to Edgewater, from which Michael Brewster came to Ohio State in January 2008.
  • His high school teammate, Davarez Bryant, announced he was signing with Florida State at the same ceremony.
  • He will wear #82 this fall.
  • Clark graduated with a 3.98 GPA.
  • Team nickname is the Barracudas, so named after the famous Heart song. I do not know if that second part is true, but I am going to tell myself, and you, that it is.
  • Here is a photo of James Clark next to a rather large barracuda statue in front of his high school.
  • His high school was the same high school as Dallas Baker, former tight end for Urban Meyer's Florida Gators.
  • He had 49 catches for 1,112 yards and 8 TDs as a senior.
  • His senior season concluded with a first round state playoffs loss to Winter Haven. The Barracudas were previously undefeated.
  • He was a first-team Florida 6A all-state pick by The Miami Herald as a senior.

 

I think James Clark is better known.

The More You Know


Let's put him on the board.

Name POS Ht Wt Hometown Committed Better Known
Cameron Burrows DB 5'11 200 Trotwood, OH 01.19.12 02.19.13
Jalin Marshall WR 5'11 196 Middletown, OH 01.30.12 02.26.13
Billy Price DT 6'4 300 Austintown, OH 02.13.12 03.05.13
Eli Apple DB 6-1 188 Voorhees, NJ 02.16.12 03.12.13
Evan Lisle OL 6-5 280 Centerville, OH 02.28.12 03.19.13
Jayme Thompson S 6-2 184 Toledo, OH 04.01.12 03.26.13
Ezekiel Elliott RB 6-0 195 St. Louis, MO 04.01.12 04.02.13
Marcus Baugh TE 6-4 233 Riverside, CA 04.10.12 04.09.13
Tracy Sprinkle DE 6-3 255 Elyria, OH 04.17.12 04.17.13
J.T. Barrett QB 6-1 230 Wichita Falls, TX 04.18.12 04.24.13
Joey Bosa DE 6-5 270 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 04.23.12 05.01.13
Darron Lee ATH 6-3 205 New Albany, OH 06.26.12 05.08.13
Michael Hill DT 6-3 315 Pendleton, SC 06.27.12 05.15.13
Timothy Gardner OL 6-5 310 Indianapolis, IN 07.28.12 05.22.13
Tyquan Lewis DE 6-3 237 Tarboro, NC 09.20.12 05.29.13
Gareon Conley CB 6-1 180 Massillon, OH 12.07.12 06.05.13
Donovan Munger DT 6-4 285 Shaker Heights, OH 12.09.12 06.12.13
Trey Johnson LB 6-2 225 Lawrenceville, GA 01.04.13 06.19.13
Mike Mitchell LB 6-4 225 Plano, TX 01.05.13 06.26.13
Christopher Worley ATH 6-3 190 Cleveland, OH 01.11.13 07.03.13
Corey Smith WR 6-0 175 Akron, OH 01.29.13 07.10.13
Dontre Wilson ATH 5-10 175 DeSoto, TX 02.04.13 07.17.13
James Clark WR 5-10 175 New Smyrna Beach, FL 02.06.13 07.24.13

 

42 Comments

Comments

Smanpoint10's picture

awww what was wrong with the first picture hahahaha

bodast67's picture

Oh thank goodness someone else noticed the picture change...thought I was stroking out or something !

 

 

 

     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

CC's picture

This kid has major game speed.

TWCBUCKEYE's picture

I agree, you can see this kids speed on film. Its possible we have a group of the fastest wide outs in the country.

"Nothing cleanses your soul like getting the [Mark May] kicked out of you."

willshire58's picture

The play he makes at the 1:16 mark in his highlight video is almost exactly the same play Ted Ginn Jr. made reversing fields against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

mh277907's picture

He seems to have a very long stride like Ginn, too. He just seems to glide.

buckeyebobcat

harleymanjax's picture

I was gonna say the same thing, he has a long, fluid stride reminiscent of Ginn

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Young_Turk's picture

I think that's the one where he took #8 for a ride twice.  lol that was hillarious.  I don't know if you guys remember the tear away jerseys,  ala Greg Pruitt.  Imagine James with tear-aways!
 
Welcome young man, super excited to have you one the team.  Thanks for being a Buckeye!

droessl's picture

Great use of the word "penultimate." It's sorely underused. 
Love this guy's speed and Urban's reaction! 

NEWBrutus's picture

I don't know how much playing time these freshman will get, but wow...If nothing else, they will push the current players to either be better or be on the bench.
 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Time really does fly. It feels like yesterday that I was celebrating getting him on NSD.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Buckabroad's picture

A great player for us! 4.45, 3.98? Sometimes the numbers really do say it all.
Welcome to Buckeye Nation, James, you will do great things here!

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

avail31678's picture

WOW.  He is fast.  Ted Ginn fast.
Who in the world are opposing defenses going to cover/focus on?!  We are going to score a lot of touchdowns.  To say we are getting weapons would be the understatement of the year.

CincyBuckeye04's picture

Love seeing people making the Ted Ginn Jr. comparisons because I honestly thought that when watching the highlight reel. He definitely has some similarities in how he runs. He obviously has a ways to go to prove he's on Teddy's level, but you can't help but be excited for the potential game-breaking ability this kid seems to possess. Hope he tears it up as a Buckeye!

tennbuckeye19's picture

James seems like a great kid from a great family. I didn't know till I read the article linked above about his announcement that his mom had passed away 2 years ago after battling breast cancer. The story made it sound like her memory drives him and that it makes him quite emotional still to talk about her.  

Dayton Buckeye's picture

I loved that we picked this kid up. Great speed and fluid.  3.9 GPA.  What more could you ask?
He does remind me of S. Homes.

dubjayfootball90's picture

That stride is nasty. Damn he fast.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Earle's picture

You gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn it to the wick, Barracuda

Seems appropriate.

Italics are for emphasis.

cinserious's picture

Dude's like a Hemi-'Cuda.

Team nickname is the Barracudas, so named after the famous Heart song. I do not know if that second part is true, but I am going to tell myself, and you, that it is.

James Clark might find himself on another aquatic-themed team this fall:  Kerry Coombs'  PIRANHAS!

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

jaxbuckeye's picture

Wow is he fassssssst!  Only thing that comes to mind is the Doppler effect!

Hovenaut's picture

Smarts and speed.

James Clark is going to be a good one.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

cinserious's picture

This guy reminds me of a young Santana Moss.
BTW, Anybody else find it disturbing that theres a baby stroller near the endzone where Clark gets pushed out at the 1:30 mark?

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

avail31678's picture

He's so fast he ran into the future!!  That's his future baby in the stroller.
He's so fast he generated the 1.21 Gigawatts of power needed to travel through time.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Love it, Avail! Could his nickname be "flux"?

silverbuckeye's picture

It is surprising to me that Northwestern did not get him.  This article makes him sound like a Stanford guy, and we all know how well Stanford plays with their bright kids.
He will be a Buckeye we will all be proud to have on our team. 

ScarletGray43157's picture

Fast.  Good body control.  High GPA may equal ability to learn to be a precise route runner.  If the latter happens combined with that speed and body control, he could reach top-level B1G status and move from Saturdays to Sundays before his playing career ends.  In short, lots of potential. 

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Squirrel Master's picture

First off, being undefeated and losing in the first round against Winter Haven means he played some top end talent down there. there are some bigtime programs down there, especially in 6A. My high school, Fort Myers HS is currently a 7A school but I think it was a 6A when I went there (our rivals North Fort Myers was Deion Sanders and Jevon Kearse's HS). Our team always sucked! With programs all around us having players like Carlos Hyde (naples HS), Sammy Watkins and the previously 2 mentioned, the last player for Fort Myers to go to the NFL was back in 1946. They really suck!
more to my point, Barracudas like shiny things in water. If you are wearing anything that will sparkle or shine in the water, they will attack you. They aren't like Piranhas but were there is 1, there are likely to be others.
So since Clark is an ex Barracuda, maybe we should keep something shiny in the endzone so he will attack it!
 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

harleymanjax's picture

Man I love Fort Myers, they have a Skyline Chili down there!
And really good strip clubs!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

cinserious's picture

You're a man out for my own heart.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

Squirrel Master's picture

Okay, I only watched half of his highlights. He is very Ginn like.
Unlike most speed demons I have seen, he does adjust to the ball very well. He might not be great at route running but he does do well in locating the ball. He made some great catches that were even close to him thanks to his adjustments.
He is great at the bubble screen like Ginn was. He makes sure to get yardage after making the first tackler miss. Something we all would like to see more of from Philly Brown. Brown can do it but he wasn't very consistent at it, at least he was horrible early on and would get shoe stringed all the time.
You know you have speed with an opposing player gives up on the chase around the 20!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Calgarybuck's picture

I like the speed he flashes on the field against top competition from a state where speed trumps all.  Welcome to buckeyenation James

allbucksallthetime's picture

I was thrilled JC committed to OSU last February.  There was a great article someone linked on 11W about JC that came from his home area.  After reading that, it was clear to me that JC is not only a terrific talent but also a young man of high character.
IMO, the biggest upgrade on this Buckeye team will be on special teams.  I can see many more exciting kick-off and punt returns and much more pressure being put on opposing punter's and kickers.  Go Bucks!

gobucks96's picture

Talk about addressing a need on this team...

hit_the_couch's picture

He runs a 10.4 100 meters. That's pretty nice.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Fugelere's picture

Guess someone is mad he destroyed their personal best in the 100m.  Evened you out.

pjtobin's picture

He sure does look fast. I'm so excited to see all of these speedsters have a great year. I am majorly getting excited. Go Bucks!!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

unholy bucknut's picture

Blazin speed good head on his shoulders. Sounds like a win win to me. Welcome aboard son. Glad to have you in the fold.

WhySoSerious's picture


B10 gonna have a lot issues dealing with the speed Urban has coming in. Slow down you know you can't catch me.

Rare&Uncommon

Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Glad to know more about James Clark!  He looks like he has a ton of talent and is a very smart kid.  Can't wait to see how he does. 
Go Bucks!!