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December 2, 2010

Season recap: Undray Clark

Undray Clark took his familiar spot near the Varela (Fla.) end zone, fielded the kickoff and promptly sprinted 95 yards for a touchdown.

With that electric kickoff return against South Miami, the Vipers’ 2010 campaign and Clark’s senior year were officially under way.

“It was literally the first play of the season,” said Varela coach Matt Dixon. “That pretty much set the tone for him for the rest of the year.”

The Maryland-bound Clark dislocated his finger early in the season, preventing him from seeing much time at slot receiver. But the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior remained a force in the secondary and a playmaker on special teams. Clark finished the year with 72 tackles and five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for scores, giving him eight for his varsity career.

“Eventually on special teams, they started [squibbing] it every time” to avoid kicking to Clark, Dixon said. “It helped us in that situation [for field position].”

Defensively, Nixon said not many teams tested Clark or the corner opposite him in the Vipers’ secondary. Varela – which finished 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the Florida Class 6A playoffs – would routinely stack eight or nine guys in the box, leaving Clark to play on an island.

“His coverage skills got a lot better,” Dixon said. “We didn’t really have to worry about his side. He got a lot better.”

Dixon said Clark also bettered his leadership skills. Football has been therapeutic for the future Terp, who suffers from a stuttering problem.

“The field is kind of like his haven,” Dixon said. “He stutters when he’s nervous. He’s nervous when he meets new people. But on the field, he’s making calls, making checks, and it doesn’t affect him at all.”

Dixon said he thinks Clark could contribute on special teams as a true freshman next fall, but could also benefit from a redshirt year. While Clark played cornerback for Varela, safety is probably the most likely spot for him in college. Dixon expects his versatility and intelligence for the game to serve him well at Maryland.

“He told me he’s excited,” Dixon said. “He wears his Terps stuff all over the campus. He’s kept up with their season. He’s excited to wear their colors. [Other programs] were trying to jump through that back door with him [and recruit him]. Schools were saying the coaching staff at Maryland was going to get fired after the season. That was the big thing going around – everyone thought it was [Ralph] Friedgen’s last year. So he’s excited now that the staff is going to be around and he’s excited about the turnaround.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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