4-star Florida WR Picks Buckeyes over Gators
By Michael Chung
James Clark is a Buckeye. Who thought they would wake up to that news on National Signing Day 2013?
The 4-star wideout out of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. shocked many in the recruiting world this morning when he picked Ohio State over his other two finalists – Florida and Clemson.
Many had pegged Clark as a future Gator after he made an extra unofficial visit to Gainesville last weekend. It came after his official visit to Columbus, but apparently Meyer and his staff left a tremendous imprint on the speedy receiver out of the Daytona Beach area.
Names likes James Quick, Dontre Wilson, Tyree and Tyrell Robinson, Ryan Timmons, and Corn Elder surfaced throughout the recruiting process. Urban Meyer wanted a stable of playmakers to compliment Corey “Philly” Brown, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer.
On Monday, Meyer received a verbal commitment from one-time Oregon Duck Dontre Wilson out of DeSoto, Tex. From the Lone Star State to the Sunshine State, Meyer and his staff have crossed the country to bring some of the very best receivers back to Ohio.
That group now includes Clark, along with Wilson, Jalin Marshall (Middletown), Corey Smith (Akron Buchtel/East Mississippi CC) and Taivon Jacobs (at least for now). Jacobs has his own announcement scheduled for 10 a.m., when he will decide between OSU and Maryland.
Clark was primarily deciding between Florida and Ohio State, with Clemson on the outside looking in. He made his sixth visit to Florida the week after his OSU visit, and most recruiting experts expected Clark to commit to Will Muschamp today.
But there were factors that may not have allowed Clark to commit and others that would make a commitment less desirable for a player of Clark’s ilk. One factor was the UF class. By the time he visited this past weekend, the Gators were already at 25 commits with seven who already enrolled. There may have been no room at the Will Muschamp Inn.
Another factor for Clark was that Florida already had five WR commits for 2013 while running a pro-style attack. Meyer and Tom Herman’s spread offense, with Braxton Miller at the helm, seems like a better fit for Clark’s dynamic skill set. Clark is a speed receiver, with the ability to get off the line fast and elude would be tacklers.
“Clark is an ideal inside receiver on the next level. He is extremely quick off the ball, he is very dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands, and he has that elite speed that not many are born with,” Chad Simmons of Scout.com writes.
“He is a big play waiting to happen when the ball goes his way. He does not have great size and he needs to work on adding weight, getting stronger, and running more crisp routes, but he is explosive and he has good hands.”
Clark stands 5-11 and 170 pounds, built similar to Taivon Jacobs and Dontre Wilson with similar speed. He is considered to be one of the fastest players in the state of Florida, which is probably what attracted Urban Meyer in the first place.
The Orlando Sentinel called him “one of the best kept secrets in recruiting,” but we know Meyer and his staff will leave no stone unturned when it comes to their never-ending search for playmakers.
With the addition of Wilson and now Clark, look for Urban Meyer to have an even more dynamic offense in the coming years, especially if he can keep 4-star tailback Ezekiel Elliott in the mix (he makes his announcement at 5 p.m. ET).
Clark is the 25th member of Ohio State’s recruiting class, but there are sure to be more changes throughout the day. Five-star safety Vonn Bell and 3-star wideout Taivon Jacobs are both scheduled to make their public announcements at 10 a.m. Bell is picking between OSU, Alabama and Tennessee while Jacobs, a current OSU commit, could flip his decision to in-state Maryland.