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Welcome Aboard: Donavon Clark

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Cincinnati Finneytown offensive tackle/guard Donavon Clark committed to MSU today, becoming the 15th member of the Class of 2011, and the second offensive lineman to sign in a week.  The basics:

  • 6'4, 295 lbs.
  • Scout: 4 stars, #13 offensive guard nationally.
  • Rivals: 3 stars, #50 offensive tackle nationally.
  • ESPN: 3 stars, 78 rating, #47 offensive tackle nationally.
  • Offers from: USC (!), Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Pitt, West Virginia, NC State, Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and many others.  Ohio State apparently was interested but never offered.
  • RCMB stalking thread here.

From Scout's Allen Trieu:

Clark is explosive and quick off the ball. He fires out low and gets into his man quickly. He shows good lower body strength and the ability to drive defenders downfield. He plays hard and mean and does a good job of finishing. He is raw in pass protection and needs work with his feet and hand placement. He has a good initial punch though, and has all the tools to become a good college guard once he improves his fundamentals.

The most striking thing about Clark's recruitment is clearly the USC offer.  While that program may not be what it recently was, a USC offer still means quite a bit.  Clark had a number of excellent suitors--apparently Tennessee was a strong contender for his services as well--and that alone makes you stand up and notice.

There's some difference of opinion as to what position Clark will play in college.  Rivals and ESPN see him as a tackle, while Scout--which rates him higher--projects him as a guard.  Clark is relatively tall, which ordinarily is a characteristic of interior linemen.  A quick scan of the projected football roster (which is sadly out-of-date at this point, hopefully to be updated sometime soon) and the fall practice depth chart suggests that guard may be the position of greater need going forward, though that could change if Henry Conway continues to have injury problems. 

Complicating matters further is the fact that some see Clark as a defensive tackle.  Sez Trieu: "Defensive Tackle is NOT out of the question. He's pretty good there too."  That same sentiment is repeated throughout the Buckeye Planet thread on Clark's recruitment.  For what it's worth, his high school coach sees him as a tackle:

Clark is expected to be an offensive tackle with the Spartans. [Coach] Chenault said he is also capable of being a guard.  "Donavon is a bulldozer," Chenault said.

For now, we're working under the assumption that Clark will be playing on offense.  So, our last two offensive line recruits have been a "beast" and a "bulldozer."  It's unclear exactly what Dantonio will need to do to keep up the hyperbolic analogy momentum--but whatever it is, we shouldn't necessarily put it past him.  Scout now ranks MSU's class of 2011 as the 19th best in the country, and second best in the Big Ten.