Clarke Talks Track, Jenkins, OSU Future

For months, some Ohio State fans have compared Buckeye signee Dominic Clarke of Maryland to another mid-Atlantic defensive back who became a superstar at OSU in Malcolm Jenkins. What does Clarke think about those comparisons? We've got the answer, plus an update on his senior year of track that already includes a state title.

Ohio State football signee Dominic Clarke has been compared to Malcolm Jenkins by numerous Buckeye fans, but the Buckeye he might resemble most his freshman year is Chris Wells.

Though Clarke had a standout career running the football at Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora, the 5-11, 180-pound cornerback prospect hasn't suddenly gained 50 pounds to look like the bruising former OSU tailback. Instead, Clarke might look like Wells because he will be wearing the No. 28 once he arrives on campus for his freshman season.

"Actually it was a surprise to me," he said. "I picked six numbers and none of them were 28. But it's an honor to wear his number. It is a cool thing for me. I'm going to see a lot of No. 28 jerseys, but I want them to say Clarke on the back."

Clarke hopes to give Buckeye fans a reason to continue wearing those shirts. As a senior at Tuscarora, he finished with 47 tackles, five pass deflections and three interceptions while leading the Titans to the playoffs for the first time in school history. Now he said his No. 1 goal is to find himself in the mix for playing time when he arrives at OSU.

If he does that, he'll continue to follow in the footsteps of Jenkins in the eyes of OSU fans. Like Clarke, Jenkins was a prospect from the mid-Atlantic who arrived in Columbus a little under the radar, and most Buckeye fans know Jenkins worked his way into the rotation as a freshman before an All-America career that ended with him becoming a first-round draft pick and the Thorpe Award winner as the best defensive back in the country.

"I heard that comparison," said Clarke, a four-star prospect and the No. 26 cornerback in the country. "I don't want to say anything too soon or guarantee that I'm going to be just like him, but I'm glad that people have expectations for me and think I'll be a good player. He's one of the best cornerbacks they've ever produced, but I just want to come in and make my own name for myself. I want to be the guy that people say, ‘Dominic Clarke is a good corner and somebody that worked hard and was a good team player.' That's what I want to come in and do."

Before Clarke arrives at Ohio State, he will finish what has become a decorated track career in Maryland. This past winter, Clarke won the 500-meter run in Class 3A and was on the Tuscarora team that won the 4x400 relay.

"I always want to win and get faster," he said. "That's always my goal. I don't like losing at all."

Clarke learned that during the indoor season when he lost his first race of the state championships, taking fifth in the 300 meters when he entered as the top seed.

"I'm a competitor and I was kind of mad at (the state meet) because I didn't do exactly what I wanted to do," he said. "I didn't run well (in the 300). I don't know what happened. That was my first race. The next race was the 500 and I was like, ‘For sure I'm not losing this race,' and I came out and won that."

He also earned an early feather in his cap in the indoor season of his junior year when he beat Fort Washington native and future OSU teammate Lamaar Thomas in the 300 in the state regional meet.

That race earned Clarke a little bit of fame when Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel brought up on signing day the fact that during a recruiting visit Clarke showed the coaching staff video of the race that he had saved on his phone.

"I showed that the first time I came down," Clarke said with a laugh. "Lamaar texted me and said that we have to race (now). … That (race) was back when I had no offers, no nothing. I knew that he was going to Ohio State, and I was like, ‘I just beat this guy who is going to Ohio State.' That was before I was even contacted by Ohio State, so I was excited."

Clarke added that he might try follow in Thomas' footsteps and run track at Ohio State.

"That's something that I'd be interested in doing, but I want to learn more of the football aspect at first," he said.

He still has his final outdoor track season to finish up, and he'll try to qualify later this week for the state championships, to be held May 22, in the 200, the 400 and two relays. After that, he'll finish out his final year at Tuscarora before moving to Columbus in June.

"It seems so far away right now," he said of enrolling at OSU in the summer. "I'm still focusing on track, but of course that's always on my mind. I think I'm ready to go."

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