Cowboys Get Good Player, Student In Clark

The Oklahoma State Cowboys may have added the final piece to their defensive end recruiting for the 2012 class. That is a key position with the losses of seniors and All-American Jamie Blatnick and All-Big 12 second teamer Richetti Jones. Now Kansas All-State performer and standout Trace Clark has picked the Cowboys.

The Thursday night commitment of Trace Clark combines with a strong class of other defensive ends, including Victor Irokansi, Eric Davis, Emmanuel Ogbah and possibly Jeremiah Tshimanga, who is also a potential linebacker.

The 6-5, 240-pound Clark finished this season with most teams avoiding him, but he still had 106 total tackles and six quarterback sacks.

The commitment took place Thursday night at the Clark home as Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy made his home visit and met with Clark and his parents. Clark had made his official visit to OSU for the Bedlam game, the last of the four he made with previous stops at Iowa, Purdue, and Stanford.

"My visit went really well and I enjoyed it," said Clark, who was at the OSU-OU game with his parents. "I got there on Friday and had the chance to see the walk through and everything they did there. Then on Saturday it was game day and I enjoyed all of that.

"The game was great and they won and it was pretty exciting with the atmosphere. The fans were really into it even when they were up by a bunch. Then after the game they rushed the field and that was something I enjoyed seeing. It was crazy."

Still, Clark and his family needed time to think it all through. In the end, Clark picked Oklahoma State over Iowa, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, Oregon and Stanford.

"I'm very relieved to know that most of the process is over now," Clark said to his hometown newspaper, the Wichita Eagle after Gundy left on the visit. "I can get back to my school work and playing basketball, and I only have a couple of coaches that I need to talk to now in coach Gundy and my position coach."

Clark also told the paper that joining two other Wichita-area players at Oklahoma State makes it easier. The Cowboys have standout running back Joseph Randle and Derby, Kan., cornerback Devin Hedgepeth, who was having a strong season when injured in the Texas A&M game. Hedgepeth was Clark's recruiting host on his visit.

"I think those two being there helped a lot," Clark said to the paper. "With Devin being my host on the trip, he was just really helpful, and (Randle and Hedgepeth) both kept telling me they really wanted me to be another Wichita-area kid who comes down there and has success."

Clark's father, Steve, played for Kansas State and the New England Patriots, and older brother Zac was an All-Pac 10 defensive lineman last season as a senior at Oregon. While Trace Clark looked at those two schools he choose to take his own path.

"I think that Trace looked at what the best situation was for him, for his education and his football future," said father Steve Clark, who is an assistant coach at Collegiate and also spoke with the Wichita Eagle. "(Oklahoma State) did the best job of recruiting Trace from Day One, did all the things you're supposed to do when you're serious about somebody.

"We had some idea it would be Oklahoma State, but (Gundy) didn't know when he showed up," continued Clark. "It was funny because (Gundy) said he told his assistant coaches that if they'd already been up here, to stay home because they'd had their chance. He wanted a shot at it."

Clark told his family earlier this week that it was down to Oklahoma State and Iowa and they went out and bought gear from both schools, just in case. Clark also has two sisters that are Division I college student-athletes or former athletes in older sisters Destiny, who played volleyball at Arkansas, and older sister Sadie, who currently plays at Arkansas State.

Clark had made his other official visits to Iowa, Purdue and Stanford in October, all on game weekends because he prefers to see what those weekends are like. He has seen so much of the other aspects of the schools in unofficial visits.

"Yes, I like to see the game day and how the players react to each other and the fans and all of the aspects of that," he said. "I had seen the academics and all of that. I wanted to see the players and I was able to see a lot of them and they seem like a very tight unit and they really get along.

"My host was Devin Hedgepeth, and besides being a cornerback he is also an Engineering major and I was able to learn how he balances football with Engineering and that seeing that helped me a lot."

Clark is a very good student and contemplating Engineering as a major. On the football field he had 106 total tackles and six sacks this season despite teams doing just about everything the could to stay away from him.

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