Dequan Clark, a defensive tackle for Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, is right in the thick of a season where his team is thinking state title or bust.
"It's going great. We're really dominating and blowing people out. Our team is having a lot of fun with that."
On top of a successful season, getting better every day is the name of the game for Clark.
"I think I'm having a good season. I'm picking up what I do and getting better and better every week. Improving is the main goal."
Clark is a high-motor defensive tackle. Don't let his soft-spoken and laid-back nature fool you. He's relentless and determined at the point of attack.
"I think I'm kind of a "go out and get you" attitude. I go out with the attitude that the guy across from me isn't going to beat me."
Clark is explosive, and he uses that to his advantage against bigger offensive linemen. But his technique is also very sound, and he does a lot of the little things very well.
"I think I have an advantage as far as being quick between the lines. I get around blocks easily, and I have good vision after making contact. I move my hands pretty well. I get offensive linemen off of me and get to the ball.
"I think my explosiveness catches people off guard. They look at me and think that as a tackle I can't be really nasty. But when they come out there and see how explosive I am and how I come off the ball, it surprises them. My speed surprises people too. But I'm pretty explosive."
Already athletic, Clark wants to improve upon his speed. He knows that the college game plays in fast-forward, and he wants to be prepared for college game speed when the time comes.
"I definitely want to get faster. That's a big part of next level play. Guys are fast. I don't want to be the slow guy. I can work on being more consistent too. I'll make a play here and there, but I don't want to slip up."
"Right now I'm 6'-3", 265 pounds. Before state I want to get up to at least 270 or maybe 275, if I can do it with good weight. I want to get up there before we play some bigger guys."
As mentioned before, Buford is loaded with talent. With players bound for LSU, Alabama, Vanderbilt and potentially other power conference schools, the level of talent provides a unique opportunity for Clark to step up to the plate and make his presence felt as well.
"It's awesome. We may make jokes about it sometimes, but we all love each other, and most of us have been playing together since we were about 8. It's good to keep that family vibe since we're like brothers. We have great chemistry."
Clark has been dedicated to his season, so recruiting has been on hold for a while. But now that the season's end is in sight, he's paying more mind to it and beginning to make some plans.
"It's been pretty fun. During the spring, I was more into recruiting. But once the season started, I put it in the back pocket. I wanted to wait until toward the end of the season."
Three schools stand out for Clark at this point, with a couple of others working their way into the picture as of late.
"Right now definitely Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi State. Duke is actually starting to pick up the interest with me too. That's always an option. I've been hearing a little bit from Tennessee."
As for what matters most in a school, Clark knows what he wants.
"I just want a place I can call home. A place where if I go, I won't feel like an outsider. I want to feel like people want me there and get that home town feeling.
That and somewhere I can get a good education at a nice school with a good learning environment. Right now, I'm thinking about a Business major. So something along those lines."
Illinois is a school that Clark speaks about highly. A lot of that attraction can be attributed to Coach Chip Long, who has built a solid relationship with him.
"I've been talking with Coach Long a lot. I feel like I have a pretty good relationship with him since he's a laid-back guy like me. I can relate to what he's saying, and he understands me very well and puts stuff in my kind of terms."
Another factor about Illinois that really appeals to Clark is the prospect of seeing the field early.
"The thing I like the most is that the defensive linemen are getting older and that if I came in, I could get on the field early and maybe even play as a freshman. It's appealing to me to get experience early because that would definitely help me out down the road."
Any chance Clark makes his way up to Champaign-Urbana soon?
"Definitely. I'm actually thinking about the first or second week of December. My teammate Andre Johnson and I are looking to come up together."
Other than Illinois, Clark has a few others in mind. But he is looking to be efficient with his time in recruiting.
"I'll probably take visits to Duke, Indiana and possibly Tennessee. I think that would probably be it, though."
But for now, Clark and his Buford squad are about to embark on a playoff run that will hopefully land them in the state title game. Last year, rival Carver knocked them out of the playoffs. Clark is determined not to let that happen again.
"We have all 5 playoff rounds left. We just won the regional championship. I think we might have to go against Carver again. They beat us last year, and it left a sour taste in our mouth. We beat them in the regular season, so it would be nice to get them again."