Four-star Clark Adventures to Penn State

The Avon (Conn.) Old Farms tight end met the Lions' new staff during an unofficial visit to University Park Saturday.

Chris Clark has long been interested in Penn State. Ever since he walked the Lions' outdoor practice turf during an Advanced Skill Camp last summer, he had hoped it would offer.

It finally did in February, albeit under a new head coach, James Franklin, and not its old staff, headed by Bill O'Brien, which Clark knew well. Clark said that as his list of suitors grew, he often found himself not thinking about the Lions. He needed a reason to.

The Avon (Conn.) Old Farms four-star tight end got it Saturday, when he unofficially visited University Park to meet Franklin and the rest of the Lions' staff.

"I know with a lot of kids, it's kind of like ‘I love the school' because they show you all the good things," Clark said. "But the whole thing, I really do have a high interest in Penn State. I have since all this recruiting stuff started.

"I visited and met the new staff, and they made such a good impression on me in terms of where they are. They are going to be competing for Big Ten and national championships, and I believe Coach Franklin is honest and passionate. He's a great recruiter."

Clark was greeted by the Lions entire coaching staff before sitting down with Franklin and offensive coordinator John Donovan for a more personalize meeting.

The junior had told Fight On State Thursday that he was hoping to learn just how the tight end position fit into Franklin and Donovan's offensive scheme. He did, but Clark added that he walked away impressed with Franklin's belief in education, noting "some coaches don't care as much about that."

"At Vanderbilt, they didn't use [the tight end] as much because they didn't have the kind of tight end Penn State has to offer," Clark said. "Penn State has elite tight ends from top to bottom. [Class of 2014 commit] Mike Geiscki is going to be a stud, and the guys they have now are studs.

"They'll do three tight ends on the field at one time and they said they'll have a lot of two tight end sets. You can move [tight ends] around everywhere, and that makes it hard for defensive coordinators. They said they have four tight ends on scholarships with Gesicki coming in, so it's not a position of need, but for me, they said they have a priority to get me."

Clark said Penn State's staff sees him as a "Y", or more traditional, tight end, adding he gained a perspective of what the Lions' offense will look like, and how it be operated, by Franklin and Donovan.

"He's awesome and a very intelligent offensive mind," Clark said of Donovan. "You can tell he knows the game really well. He's a cool guy and coach that I would definitely love to play for. I'm really excited about Penn State and where they are heading.

"They said with or without me, they want me on board but that they're going big places no matter what. I like that confidence; the coaches are having the offense get there, and they have some studs with [Christian] Hackenberg at quarterback. They have a lot of talent to win a lot of games."

North Carolina is the next stop the 6-foot-6, 247-pounder will make, and while in Chapel Hill Sunday and elsewhere, he said he will compare and measure how much he connects with future staffs to the way he did with the Lions. His outgoing personality jived with that of Franklin and his staff, Clark said, adding the State staff is not "robotic."

After visiting the Tar Heels Saturday, Clark will visit Michigan and Ohio State next weekend. He also plans to return to Penn State for a spring practice sometime in April.

The Lions had pitched the idea of him returning for the Blue-White game April 12, but ACT testing will keep him in Connecticut.

"Penn State was my favorite at the beginning of all of this," Clark said. "It was a school I really wanted to get that offer from and I saw myself going there. I feel like I'm back at that point with this staff; they're one of schools at the top of my list now, and I can't wait to get back.


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