Exton (Penn.) Downingtown East offensive tackle Michael Clark may not have been one of the more hyped prospects visiting over the weekend, but it may not be long until he becomes a fan favorite at Syracuse. Especially after hearing his story.
Clark is a three-star offensive lineman who decided to commit to the Orange during his official visit over the weekend. He entered the trip without an offer, but that changed quickly as he was extended one on Friday. On Saturday, he pulled the trigger for a variety of reasons.
"Just everything," Clark said. "The coaches, the campus, the guys on the team, the academics and the history of the school and the program. SU has also been a dream school since I was 10.
"The first time I saw the move The Express, I wanted to play at Syracuse. It's always been my dream."
The way Clark realized that dream, making his commitment known to the coaches, was quite unique.
"My host (Zack Mahoney) was the only one who really knew that I was going to commit that morning," he said. "I texted him and we came up with a plan. In the team meeting when all the hosts were introducing the recruits to the rest of the team, the host usually says he's committed or he's not committed.
"When it was my turn, he gave all my accolades and first teams that I've won this year and whatever. Then he pointed to me and I said, 'I'm committing to Syracuse University.' The whole place went nuts. All the coaches, they had no idea it was coming so it was a really cool moment. Everyone was really, really excited."
That dream almost did not come to fruition. Clark was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child and was not allowed to play football. But he was able to overcome that obstacle, eventually being granted medical clearance to participate in the sport that he loved.
"I was diagnosed in 2003," Clark said. "With epilepsy, there's lots of different kinds out there. I have the most mild kind. Mine was at the very, very, very bottom. So I've been taking this medicine since probably 2004, and I haven't had a seizure in 10 years. I've been clear for that long.
"I was doing so well with it when I was younger, that I was playing baseball and I was playing basketball. Finally they said I could play lacrosse to get used to the contact knowing that I really wanted to play football. I played lacrosse for about three years. Then, not long after, they thought I had grown out of my epilepsy.
"That ended up not being the case. I had a sleep test and there was some activity from me not doing my medicines for about a year. So I went back on that back in 2010, seventh grade. Then they gave me the go ahead to play football."
Overcoming such difficulties gives Clark a perspective on the opportunity to play major division one football. Especially at the school he dreamt of playing.
"Just knowing that everything I've worked so hard for since seventh grade, not being able to play football as a kid because of epilepsy to loving football as a kid to being able to play where I've always wanted to play, it's really humbling," Clark said. "It's the greatest feeling I've ever had in my entire life.
"I feel truly blessed. I'm lucky and I'm grateful to have the opportunity with the abilities that I have to play at a top level of division one football at the school that I love."