One new name to look out for is Erics Clark, out of El Camino High School in Oceanside. The big linebacker has seen his stock rise in recent weeks and he was among the recruits at the USC-Auburn football game on Monday.
At 6'5 and 215 pounds, Clark has the frame to grow into a monster at the next level. Playing at the outside linebacker spot for his El Camino team, he picked up 13 unassisted tackles and 15 assists. While those numbers don't necessarily jump out at you, Clark's athleticism is unquestionable and many believe he's on verge of a huge senior season, including college coaches who are showing a lot of interest. "I like to really hit people," said Clark in discussing what he likes about playing linebacker. "That's one reason I like to play football more than basketball. Most people ask me what I like to play better, basketball or football, and I say football because if you have some anger in you, you can let it out on the football field. Just being out there with the team, hustling, getting rowdy, and talking it up."
September 1st marked the first day college coaches could call recruits and Clark noted that the Trojans were among those that called, "USC, Coach Holt called me. I talked to Steve Bernstein from Arizona, just like an hour ago. My mom said I got a call from Fresno State. He left a message, I wasn't here." Clark has yet to receive an offer, but you can expect that to change as the season goes along. He has three even leaders in USC, Arizona, and Oregon over Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Oregon State. In looking at the different schools, Clark has some priorities he's taking into account, as he explained, "I'm looking at the coaching staff, how they treat you. The coaching staff and how their academics are. My first impression of the school is important too, like when I went to USC's Junior Day, they made a really good first impression."
Trojan linebacker coach Nick Holt is one of the coaches who has impressed Clark most, and he's a big reason why USC is one of his leaders, "I like him a lot," he said. "He's really energetic. Some of the colleges call, but he always calls at the right time when I'm around. I don't know how he does it, but every single time he calls, I'm around. He's really energetic and tries to get me to come out to the games. He's going to be at our scrimmage on Saturday. So I really like him as a coach and a person. He introduced me to his family."
This past summer, Clark got an opportunity to take in a day of USC's four-day camp and the big linebacker felt very comfortable in the Trojan defense, "I went to a day of their four-day camp and their defense is exactly like ours," he said. "It just has different names and terminology. In high school they try to keep it simple. The only thing different for the SAM backer is the stance, I'm more head up in high school."
Clark was at the Trojan-Auburn game at the Coliseum and it was an experience that he really enjoyed, "Yeah, I went to the SC game," he explained. "I like the atmosphere. That was my first college football game I've been to. All the support they get and playing in front of that big crowd on national TV. I was sitting in the stands and I was getting hyped up like I was in the game. I got to go back in the locker room after and see some of the players and what they do after the game. Talking to the coaches and seeing what they do and how they act after the game, it was pretty cool. Seeing all of the media and press walking around interviewing people, first hand. Seeing people that I wanted to see, like Brandon Hancock, because I wanted to see how big he really was because I read the Sports Illustrated article and I saw how really big he is. He's huge."
Clark also touched on the factors that have him looking at Arizona and Oregon:
Arizona- "Steve Bernstein, he's recruiting me. He recruited my cousin, Bryant Westbrook who plays for the Cowboys now. That got me interested in them. He was recruiting a couple of players on the team last year and he used to come out to a lot of practices and ask about me, and he came up and talked to me."
Oregon- "Demetrious Bates, he was our quarterback in 1999 and 2000. He's a defensive back at Oregon. It seems like an interesting place and it's out of state, and it's a good school. I got their media guide and I looked at all of the players and I think they recruited like one linebacker last year."
Clark and El Camino open their season on September 13th against Mira Mesa. He's ready to get back on the field after a busy summer of school work and basketball, another sport that he stars in, "I've been playing basketball with my team. We've been in a lot of tournaments. We're supposed to be one of the best teams in California this year. I also went to summer school to get a couple grades up from freshman year. I was doing that and playing basketball everyday, and we also had our football summer program where we lifted and ran." Clark noted that he didn't max on bench or squat during the summer due to a muscle strain, but he ran a 4.7 flat forty and jumped 32.6'' in the vertical leap.