Buckeyes Land James Clark

Ohio State hit the jackpot Wednesday morning, as the Buckeyes landed their two top prospects on the recruiting board. Urban Meyer looked to add speed on the outside and accomplished that by reeling in James Clark

On Sunday's drive home from their unofficial visit to Gainesville, Jessie Clark and his son James spent the entire two-hour drive talking about the decision that was coming. Every different angle of the conversation led back to Ohio State. The comfort level Clark experienced on his official visit to Columbus was too much for Clemson or Florida to match.

"After we took the Florida visit, we took a few hours talking about the options and different factors about how we would make a decision," Jessie Clark said after his son's announcement on Wednesday. "I'm proud of him about the things he looked at to make the right decision. He looked at the academic program, football program, as well as how he would fit in with the school.

"When we left the Florida visit, we spent a few hours coming home and talking. At that point is when we made a decision."

The things Clark looked at started with academics. It can be a cliché in recruiting, but it was an important part of the process for the wide receiver. Clark has a 3.98 GPA and has been on the honor roll for four years. He's planning to pursue a degree in finance at Ohio State.

The pitch from Urban Meyer and the coaching staff was simple. They had to overcome being the furthest of the three final schools for James Clark, so the Ohio State coaches recruited him while talking about the move as a positive.

They challenged Clark to embrace moving away from home and continuing to mature in an unfamiliar setting.

"Don't come to Ohio State if you don't want to make a grown man move," Clark recalled Meyer telling him throughout his recruitment.

When he heard that from Meyer, Clark knew what he wanted to do. Maturing and becoming a grown man was an important part of the process for the four-star wide receiver.

"There's life after football," Clark said from the New Smyrna Beach High School podium Wednesday morning. "It was definitely a close call. They're all three great schools."

Clark and Meyer grew closer on his official visit to Columbus. He got a better feel and understanding for the offense Ohio State runs and how they would use him.

"My relationship with Coach Meyer is very close," Clark said. "He calls me every morning when I'm going to school to check up on me. He's like my second dad."

The Clarks grew closer with the Ohio State coaching staff, mostly Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, in recent weeks as they spent time in Florida and inside the family's home. Jessie Clark developed enough trust in the Ohio State staff to send his son away to Columbus for college.

"We built a relationship from the conversations we had in our home and over the phone," Jessie Clark said. "It just happened over the last week or so as we continued to talk to him."

On the field for the Buckeyes, New Smyrna Beach High School coach Lance Jenkins knows Clark will be a playmaker. Clark finished his high school career with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and over 20 touchdowns while being named All-Area first team as a junior and a senior.

His senior year was the breakout season. Clark made 49 catches for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns, leading his team to a 9-0 record in district play. He was later named 6A Player of the Year in Central Florida.

His 4.38 40-yard and 10.43 100-meter speed is what will make him a weapon for the Buckeyes.

"For me being the head coach and offensive coordinator, he made play calling really easy," Jenkins said with a laugh. "He's just a great player. He worked really hard in the offseason. He always had the straight-ahead speed, but he became a great football player in the past two years.

"I know it's probably a cliché they use at Ohio State, but I think he's going to play a Percy Harvin role up there. That's what they do. The guy is a legit 4.3-speed. Get the ball in his hands and let him go."

Clark also made his mark for the Barracudas on special teams, returning nine career kickoffs for touchdowns.

"He's one of those guys that has a knack for kickoff returns," Jenkins said. "He's just special."


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