Clarke Excited About OSU Future

One player from the class of 2009 looking to make an early impact is Dominic Clarke. The cornerback will have a chance at a position that lost two major contributors from the past season. The four-star prospect talked about what he hopes to accomplish and what the coaches are telling him.

When a school like Ohio State has more than 20 verbal commitments among its No. 1-ranked class in the country, a few players are bound to get lost in the shuffle.

Ohioans like Jamie Wood, Johnny Simon, Storm Klein and Melvin Fellows are familiar names to Buckeye fans who also follow the high school ranks, while out-of-staters like Duron Carter and Justin Green are known for their family ties to Ohio State.

And then there's Dominic Clarke, a four-star prospect out of Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora. Though Clarke is listed as the No. 26 cornerback in the country, he doesn't seem to have the same name recognition among even Buckeye recruitniks.

But Clarke hopes to introduce himself once he arrives in Columbus in June to start classes.

"Most definitely," he said. "Some of (the fans) do know you, they still ask for your autograph and all that, but I'm still flying under the radar. When I come up hopefully I'll be making plays and everyone will know who the guy from Maryland is. I'm looking forward to that."

The 5-10, 168-pounder hopes to earn the chance to do so the old-fashioned way: through hard work.

"I want to go in there and work hard every day because that's basically all I can do," Clarke said. "Whatever the coaches need to me come in for any position, I'm going to run out there on the field and try to get as much playing time as possible."

The cornerback seems to have the intangibles that would make such an early impact. Clarke gets it done in the classroom, earning a 3.75 grade-point average last quarter.

On the field, he helped lead Tuscarora, which opened in 2003, to an 8-2 regular-season record and its first playoff appearance while earning consensus All-Maryland honors while also earning big school all-state honors.

Now, the trick will be to translate his skills to the next level. He'll enter Ohio State with a chance to do so after the graduation of Malcolm Jenkins and the departure of Donald Washington to the NFL draft. The Buckeyes return only one player with extensive playing time at cornerback in Chimdi Chekwa.

The coaching staff has told him to be ready for a competition.

"They said it's wide open," Clarke said. "They said it's all up to me. They can't guarantee playing time, but they said if I'm out there and I'm working hard and I'm showing that I'm better than the guys that are ahead of me, then they'll play me. They don't have any rule that says freshmen can't play. If I go out there and I show better than the guys ahead of me if they're older than me, then I'll play."

Clarke said his idol as a cornerback was not a fellow Buckeye but a Deion Sanders, who played for his favorite pro team, the Dallas Cowboys.

When asked if he plays like the famed "Prime Time," Clarke said, "We'll see. I don't want to start making a comparison before I get in. I'm not going to lie, I like to do a little talking, but I'm not going to say anything right now. Hopefully my play proves up to it and when I get to Ohio, they can give me a nickname up there."

He said that he stays in contact with a number of the commits in the class, including Fellows, Green, Wood, Corey Brown and Chris Fields. Clarke added that he is treated as though he is one of the five-star prospects by the coaching staff.

"Just because some of the other guys, they might have high accolades or something like that, they don't treat me any different than a five-star guy," Clarke said. "They still treat me genuinely. They still tell the truth. The coaches come to my house sometimes. I don't see them treating me any different. I like that. It seems like a family up there."

Though Clarke said he's not happy to be leaving his family in Maryland, a six-hour drive from Columbus, he did have a few things he was looking forward to when he gets to his new family at Ohio State.

"Of course, getting to know the players more and looking forward to the football season," he said. "School is going to come with that. I'll have to start off good with my grades. I don't want to start out slacking in my classes. I'm going to come in and have summer school and jump on top of my grades right away. I want to come out working tough on my books and having them down pat when I get there and then of course starting work on the football field."

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