Super 16: Clark Out to Show He's Right Person to Lead Miners to Gold
Mon. August 20, 2012 at 4:16 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
Fort Meade's De'Vante Clark ran for more than 1,400 yards last year and scored 11 touchdowns for the Miners. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER | THE LEDGER
FORT MEADE | As an eighth grader, De'Vante Clark was lifting with the big boys.
He was a smaller guy, but he impressed coaches and teammates with his strength.
He's a rising senior now, and, obviously pushing bigger numbers: His max on bench press is 335. On squat, it's 455 pounds.
"He trains awfully hard in there," Jemalle Cornelius, his coach at Fort Meade, said.
"It's kind of a source of pride for him."
So is running the ball 20-25 times a game, then coming back in to help stop a big play on defense.
Clark flourished in that role last year. He rushed for 1,411 yards on 217 carries with 11 touchdowns. He also had 42 tackles.
He says he will try to match or exceed those numbers this year to help the Miners get deep into the playoffs.
"I feel like I'm just the right person for the job," Clark said. "I like to have the ball in my hand so I can make plays and coach Cornelius trusts me to do that."
Clark started in spurts as a sophomore and played defense mainly as a freshman. Last year, he was the No. 1 tailback for Fort Meade, and the team rode him all the way to the Class 3A regional finals.
In the first round of the playoffs, Clark rushed for 146 yards to help Fort Meade advance. He topped that performance earlier in the year when he rolled off 246 against Auburndale in a regular-season game.
"He ran the ball hard and if you didn't get a solid tackle on him he would take off," Auburndale coach Kenneth Grantham said.
The ability to shake off defenders is one of Clark's attributes. So is speed, power and endurance.
"He can cover a lot of ground and he always has these long runs late in the game when other teams are tired," Cornelius. "He knows when to capitalize."
He's gotten some interest to play football at the collegiate level. Cornelius said South Alabama and Ohio University have been in contact. Clark is also one of this year's PolkPreps.com Super 16 selections, a list of the top 16 rising seniors in Polk County.
The only caveat, recruiters say, is that Clark is too short. But Clark mentions Darren Sproles, an NFL running back who plays for the New Orleans Saints, when anyone makes mention of his height: 5 feet 9.