Chris Clark (6’6, 247)
Avon (Conn.) Old Farms
No. 1 TE, No. 23 Overall
Introduction: Just last week, UCLA lost its longtime tight end commitment, Alize Jones, who flipped to Notre Dame. Jones originally committed to UCLA in November of 2013, and had given indications as recently as the end of last summer that he was completely done with his recruitment. But, over the last few months, it’s become increasingly clear that Notre Dame had made up a ton of ground. To UCLA’s credit, the Bruins did a nice job of reading the tea leaves and pivoting early enough to salvage tight end recruiting for this cycle. After getting some lukewarm signals from Jones through the season, the UCLA coaching staff offered Chris Clark, the No. 1 tight end in the country, in mid-November. Since then, the Bruins have pressed hard for Clark, regardless of Jones’ decision, and now stand in reasonable position to land him.
Recruitment: Clark’s recruitment has been a pretty dramatic affair. He’s already committed to two different schools — North Carolina in the spring, and Michigan in the summer — and decommitted from Michigan after Brady Hoke was fired in early December. Since then, he’s taken visits to a variety of schools, but recently cut his list down to just two — UCLA and Michigan. Clark is fresh off his official visit to Michigan, where he met with Jim Harbaugh for the first time. He came away impressed, and the thinking is that it truly is a neck-and-neck battle between the two schools. UCLA will have a chance to sway him this weekend, likely pitching him on the idea that he can by the game-changer for UCLA’s offense, since the Bruins haven’t had a true tight end type since Joseph Fauria graduated. This will be his first visit to UCLA, and with perfect 80 degree weather forecasted for the weekend, it could be a pretty significant one.
Evaluation: Clark is a true tight end in the mold of the (seemingly) dozens of tight ends Stanford churned out in the Harbaugh era, which is why there’s some belief he’ll ultimately end up at Michigan. He’s big, strong, and physical, but he’s also a very good pass-catcher, making him a true dual-threat tight end, with the ability to block at a very high level coupled with the ability to run crisp routes and make big catches downfield. Unlike Alize Jones, who projected more as just a big, albeit extremely athletic, receiver, Clark would change the dynamics of UCLA’s offense quite a bit, allowing the Bruins to use more varied power formations. Right now, Poasi Moala and a variety of defensive linemen have had to play those fullback and tight end roles when UCLA does go to a big formation, but the addition of Clark would change that, and give the Bruins a player who is both a real threat to catch the ball and a real asset in run-blocking.
Official Visit Preview: Chris Clark
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