Starting off a jam packed weekend that includes trips to both Ohio State and Michigan, 2015 Avon (Conn.) Old Farms four-star tight end Chris Clark first ventured to Ann Arbor Thursday night, staying over into Friday.
Looking to gain a better feel for the Wolverines and the program under Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Clark quickly found himself hanging out with several players that strap on the winged helmet.
“I went out to get something to eat on campus with Jake Butt and Coach Ferrigno (Thursday night),” Clark said. “It was a good opportunity just to chat, eat some food, and then I went back to the dorms with Jake, hung out with Shane Morris, Mason Cole and a couple other guys, chilled with them.
“Jake Butt is an awesome guy, so, I got to hang out with a lot of players last night.”
Friday, Clark was given the full tour of Michigan, spending most of his time with head coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, even walking down the tunnel of the big house to see the field he could some day play on.
Most importantly though, coming over from Alabama, Doug Nussmeier had a chance to discuss and show Clark exactly how he plans to utilize tight ends in his system in Ann Arbor.
“Today (Friday) I had a long day just kind of hanging out with Coach Hoke, Coach Nussmeier, talking a lot about how they’re going to go forward with tight ends in the offense. Coach Nussmeier is big with 12 personnel, which is exciting cause he likes to play a lot of two tight end sets.
“We checked out a lot of the facilities, obviously walking around the big house was pretty sick. It’s so much bigger than you thought; it’s big on television but then in person it’s like oh my gosh, it’s so big.
“(Then) I met with the strength coach and then we all went out to lunch so that was fun. I finished the day just kind of chilling with Coach Hoke in his office and we just chatted about a lot of different things.”
Heading into the visit, including the one Saturday and Sunday at Ohio State and at the end of the month at Auburn, Clark said it was time he start asking some serious questions, gathering as much information as possible while on trips to campus.
Friday, Clark laid out his most important question for the Michigan coaching staff, and they answered it quickly and thoroughly.
“I just asked Coach Nussmeier because tight end productivity at Alabama wasn’t that high and the question going into the visit I wanted to ask was in terms of the kind of offense he wants to run at Michigan,” Clark said. “He really wants to use the tight end big time.
“I mean, he coached Austin Seferian-Jenkins at Washington and did some good things with them there and obviously did a couple good things with O.J. Howard last year. Coach Nussmeier said he was limited in what he wanted to do because Alabama is; Coach Saban wants to pound the football, so it was really out of his hands.
“So, at Michigan, he has a real good idea of what he wants to do with the position. I’m excited to see and watch what they do this year. It kind of stinks with Jake hurt with the torn ACL and coming back so Coach Nuss said towards the beginning of the season the tight end productivity might not be where he wants it to be right away but they’re working hard and he really wants to get them involved so, that’s a really good thing.”
A full 6-foot-6, 250-pounds, Clark fits the profile of a tight end that can hang in to run block, pass protect, or run out to catch some balls over the middle.
Hearing about his role on the field was key, but having the chance to forge better relationships with the coaching staff off the field loomed large on the visit as well.
“They’re just real,” Clark said. “I think all the coaches there are real guys, real honest. Nothing what they said was, to me, did I think was a lie or suspect or questionable. I thought they were being real honest the entire time I was there and it’s something I really appreciated.
“That type of stuff goes a long way. I mean, the tradition at Michigan is incredible in terms of the football history they have so, it’s a good spot.”
Clark’s father made the trip to Ann Arbor as well, impressed with the way Michigan decided to honor those that starred on the field in years past.
“He liked it a lot too,” Clark said. “He thought the whole thing was awesome. He thought the impact, the legends of football, is really cool and I thought that was really cool too.
“I enjoyed hearing about that and the program they run. The whole network at Michigan is awesome and a lot of really successful people have come from Michigan so, it’s a really awesome University.”
Asked what his favorite part of the Michigan visit was and Clark didn’t hesitate to say it was spending extra time with, potentially, his future position coach.
“I just really liked Coach Ferrigno,” Clark said. “I like him a lot. He’s the favorite tight ends coach right now that I’m kind of dealing with. He’s just really cool and I enjoyed spending time with him. His wife came out to lunch with us too.
“I just like him man, he coached Tony Gonzalez at Cal, he’s been around and successful in college football so, he’s definitely a guy I could see myself playing for.”
Most importantly for Michigan and Clark, the trip made the four-star talent see how he’d fit should he ultimately commit to the Wolverines.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “It definitely did.”
Overall, the visit was a big success for Clark and his father.
“It was like a perfect trip though,” he said. “It was really nice out today so, it was a good day to be in Ann Arbor. It was a good trip.”
Clark now heads to Ohio State for a visit Friday and Saturday before heading home Sunday morning.
Clark also visits Auburn at the end of April.