Clark Just Happy to be a Tight End

<P>It has been a long journey for senior tight end Jared Clark but he could not be happier. Clark reported to Notre Dame as a quarterback in the 2000 class that also included Carlyle Holiday and Matt LoVecchio as quarterbacks. Quarterback didn't quite work out for Clark. He moved to tight end last spring and the Sarasota, FL native is very happy he did. </P>

The move hasn't been easy for Clark but he feels much more comfortable playing tight end. "When I first moved, I was very excited to be able to be a part of the team and help the team out," said Clark. "I was struggling a lot with the blocking all last year. I think I have been slowly improving but I'm still a work-in-progress. I love playing tight end and I love what we are doing right now and I am having fun with it."

Clark understands that he needs to become a complete tight end and needs to work on his blocking technique. He says he has been focusing very hard on his technique. "The coaches have been focusing on everybody just trying to get our pads lower and working on technique. We've just got to get better up front and we understand that. I think the whole line as a whole has been working hard on their technique this spring."

Carlyle Holiday started looking for Clark at the end of the 2002 season, as he appeared to be the tight end that could get down field. Clark finished the season with seven catches for 104 yards for an average of 14.9 yards per reception. Will Clark be the tight end they look to throw the ball to? "The coaches want the complete package. They expected me to get down field and catch balls all season. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that. They are looking for the whole package and if you can catch balls but can't block, you aren't going to be effective so I am working on that."

Clark made no excuses for the mistakes he made last year playing tight end. He knows where he needs to improve and that attitude should make him successful. "I would say blocking is definitely the area I need to improve on. Until I can do that and do that effectively, they can't put me in the game because they can't have faith in me."

Every player will have personal goals but most don't tie certain numbers to their goals. Clark has one goal for this season. "Every day, the only thing I can think about is trying to get better. I want to improve every single day. Wherever that takes me, I just want to be the best player I can possibly be. I think if I can reach my full potential that things will work out. I just want to contribute to this team any way I can."

Clark played last season a little under-sized. He had just moved to the tight end position after playing quarterback at 220 pounds so he has had to add some weight and strength to be able to handle the physical play at tight end. Clark continues to try to add weight and strength to prepare his body for the pounding it will take during the season. "They want me to get to 250. I am at about 242 right now. When I came from playing quarterback they wanted me to gain some weight and gain it real fast. Now I am kind of going slow about it and this summer I feel I can gain about 10 pounds. I want to do it slowly so I can keep my speed."

The Irish will likely use the tight end even more this year. If Clark can become the complete player, expect to see him in the game quite a bit. He certainly understands the importance of becoming a complete player and made no excuses about his play last year.

In reality, Clark was a freshman playing tight end his first year so he should be given the same slack as any freshman but the encouraging sign is that he didn't want any slack. Clark gives the Irish a player who can get down field past the linebacker making both the linebacker and the safety responsible. Having that threat should open up the Irish passing game. If Clark can improve his blocking skills, he could really help the Notre Dame passing game this year.


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