"It feels real good to put this behind me. It has been a long, long process as I have made several visits over the past year and I have been able to see what I needed to see from the programs that I had the highest interest in attending. I have always tried to take it all in and make the right choice."
On Wednesday, Clark made the call and gave his verbal pledge to Michigan State. The Spartans, along with Cincinnati and Tennessee were the program Donavon was looking at the hardest. What made the Spartans the team of choice?
"I made a visit up to Michigan State a year ago for camp and it was nice. I went back up there in the past month and took a visit on campus and came away very impressed with what I saw. The campus was nice, and the facilities were great, I also had a chance to talk with Coach Mannie (strength & conditioning coach) and Coach Dan Roushar (offensive line coach), and then I had a chance to talk with Coach Dantonio. He is a really nice guy and a real humble person who told me I would have a chance to play there."
One of the things Donavon took away from the process was the way different schools recruit. While a few programs used high pressure, he found Mark Dantonio to be one that allowed a player to see what was out there and make a decision based on what the player discovered from the different program of interest. In the end this helped sway Clark to the Spartans.
"I never felt any pressure to commit to Michigan State at anytime during the recruiting process. At this point I had been everywhere and I just felt I was ready to make the decision. I had thought about taking more time but I had seen everything I needed to see and knew where I wanted to go."
Did Donavon find it hard to say no to the hometown Bearcats?
"It was extremely hard not to pick Cincinnati. UC was a school that came after me very hard during the process. I have gone down there several times and all the coaches there recruited me so hard every time I visited. It has always been hard for me to say no to people, but as I have learned this is a business and in the end you must make the decision you feel is best for you."
How excited is Donavon about getting this process behind him?
"I am very excited, it has been a long process, but at the same time it has been very fun. At one time you think about taking all the official visits and thing about National Signing Day, But once you are in this position, you realize you don't need to see or hear anything else and it's time to bear down and make a decision."
Friday night is the start of Donavon's senior season of football. Is he ready to get things started?
"I'm ready to give these defensive linemen a run for their money. I'm very excited, Finneytown is getting ready to start a new era of winning football, and we are all set to go."
One of the things that helped Donavon with his selection of Michigan State was the personal manner Mark Dantonio took with him.
When I was up there in Coach Dantonio's office talking to him with my parents he said some things that really stood out to me. He noticed how I stutter, over the years only a few people have ever come out and said anything about it to me. He did not ignore it as we talked about it. That told me he is the type of person who can read people and that really stood out to me."
While the Spartans head coach made a great impression, it has been the long work of Spartans defensive back coach Harlon Barnett that helped Clark when it mattered most.
"My relationship with coach Barnett has been almost a year and a half now. I have had a long relationship with Coach Barnett and we are very cool with each other. He is also from Cincinnati and also knows my high school coach."
In the end the chance to play in the Big Ten was something Donavon could not walk away from doing.
"I feel in the end I always wanted to play in the Big Ten. The Big Ten has so much tradition and with me being at a high school that does not have a lot of tradition, this is something I really want to experience and be a part of."
As with all big decisions Donavon looked for guidance from his parents. How does mom and dad feel about the choice of Michigan State?
"My dad and mom each had their own opinions, but in the end they each said this was about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life. My parents are really supportive of me going to Michigan State."
Throughout the process, Donavon learned that emotion can play a big role in how you feel about a school.
"I've been to so many places and each time I would leave a school they would be at the top of my list. I learned that this was normal, but it has gotten frustrating at times."
While Donavon only had a chance to talk with a few of the current Spartans, one that he did get a chance to talk with was Greg Jones. Like Donavon, Jones hails from Cincinnati and felt the pressure to stay home.
"I got to talk with Greg Jones; he's an amazing guy, an All-American. So to get the chance to sit down and talk with him was real nice. I also had a chance to speak with quarterback Kirk Cousins and you could see he is also a really good person."
Over the course of many years Michigan State has done a solid job of getting players from the Cincinnati area and the Clark family took notice.
"My dad does a lot of research on things and we have found that a lot of guys have gone to Michigan State to play from Cincinnati. So when I get there I won't be the only guy from here up there."
With his verbal pledge, Donavon Clark becomes the fourteenth member of the Class of 2011 for Michigan State. The Spartans class continues to get bigger, stronger, and better with each pledge.
SpartanDigest.com will have photos from Donavon Clark's announcement to come along with more about his pledge to the Spartans.