Quality defensive lineman have been a prime target for Alabama the entire recruiting season, and closing on this in-state star was considered crucial for the Tide.
Given the realities of the NCAA investigation, Clark's commitment is welcome news to the Alabama staff. "I felt more comfortable with Coach Fran and his staff," Clark said this afternoon. "That meant a lot."
Clark (6-3, 275) was an All-State selection after Daphne finished the 2001 season with a 15-0 record as Class 6A state championships. He totaled 80 tackles and 9 sacks as a senior.
Given his ties to The University, many had assumed Clark would be an easy pickup for the Tide. But the big lineman considered his many options carefully. Clark took an official visit to LSU last weekend, and his selection came down to Alabama or the Bengal Tigers.
"Coach Saban is a real nice guy, but I just felt more comfortable at Alabama," he said.
As a freshman at Daphne, Clark was a teammate of current Tide linemen Kenny King and Atlas Herrion. But though he listened to what his two friends had to say about the recruiting process and Alabama, Clark said that relationship was not the deciding factor.
"No, actually it didn't," Clark said. "I'm real good friends with both of them, but it really didn't make a difference."
As part of self-imposed sanctions offered to the NCAA, Alabama is operating this year under a limit of only 17 scholarships. With Clark's decision, Alabama currently has 15 commitments. One is expected to be signed and placed in junior college and another will delay his entry until January of 2003.
Clark is the third defensive lineman to give Alabama his verbal pledge. Northport's Chris Harris (6-6, 230) and Prattville's Kyle Tatum (6-6, 270) had previously announced their commitments.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Greg LaRose of Tiger Rag.com contributed to this report.