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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

By Sammy Batten

RECRUITING THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008

Joshua Clark: football born and bred

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.


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Joshua Clark: football born and bred

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When you’re a football coach like North Gaston High School’s Bruce Clark, describing the talents of a player who also happens to be your son can be tricky.

“The hardest part about coaching your son is when you start getting questions about how good he is because it always comes back like you’ve given him preferential treatment,’’ said Clark, who first faced the situation when his oldest son, Justin, played quarterback for him at North Gaston. Justin went on to a college career at Western Carolina where he led the Catamounts in passing during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Clark admits he’s gone out of his way to avoid that perception the last three years coaching his second son, Joshua. But growing up a coach’s son, both the good and bad, have helped the 6-foot-4 1/2, 255-pound Joshua Clark develop into a college prospect on the offensive line.

“He’s probably been yelled at and treated harder than any kid on our football team by 100 percent. It’s not even close,’’ Bruce Clark said. “But otherwise, I think that (being coach’s son) has been a definite plus for him.

“He does have great instincts. He is one of the most fundamental linemen I’ve ever coached. But heck, he ought to be because that’s all he’s ever heard. All he’s ever known is get in the truck and go watch football. He’s been there every day.

“If I was a college coach, I think I’d recruit every coach’s son I could get.’’

East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz and tight ends coach Phil Petty must agree.

They extended a scholarship offer to Clark on November 8, and he accepted it three days later to become ninth member of the Pirates recruiting Class of 2008.

Clark said the relationship he’d built with Holtz, Petty and offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler since ECU first made contact with him as a junior was a major factor in choosing the Pirates over interest from the U.S. Naval Academy and Vanderbilt.

“The coaching staff really made the decision easy,’’ Joshua Clark said. “They’ve created a family setting there, and that felt comfortable to me. I didn’t even look at their roster much. I just kind of looked at the school overall and made my decision.’’

Bruce Clark said his son was sold on the Pirates soon after visiting Greenville for the ECU-North Carolina game in September. An energetic crowd of 43,000 at Ficklen-Dowdy Stadium cheered the Pirates to a 34-31 win over the Tar Heels.

“What a great atmosphere that was,’’ Bruce Clark said. “I think after that Josh was just waiting for somebody to call and make him that offer.’’

Now that Joshua’s recruitment is finished, both Clarks can concentrate on getting North Gaston even deeper into the state playoffs.

The Wildcats enter Friday’s third-round state 3-A playoff game at Anson County with a 10-2 record. They’ve produced that mark behind a talented offense that features both Joshua Clark and quarterback A.J. Blue. Blue is regarded as one of the state’s top college prospects and owns scholarship offers from Illinois and North Carolina.

“It’s been a great experience playing with A.J.,’’ Joshua Clark said. “We’ve developed a brotherly relationship.

“I guess our season has been a surprise in some ways. We anticipated a lot of players coming back, but a lot of them wound up not playing because of eligibility. Still, we knew we had the talent, but the didn’t know if we had the heart. But we found out we do.’’

This is Joshua’s third season on the North Gaston varsity. He played on the junior varsity as a freshman, then joined the varsity as a part-time starter on the offensive line and as the full-time deep snapper as a sophomore.

The last two seasons Clark has played a variety of positions, but most of his action has come as a starter at offensive guard and deep snapper.

Clark has also been a star for the Wildcats baseball team up to this season, playing first base and pitching. He posted a 3-1 record on the mound last spring, but will give up the sport to concentrate on his football training this year.

The Pirates have recruited Clark to play one of the “inside’’ positions on the offensive line, either “guard or center,’’ Bruce Clark said.

“Josh has got a lot of upside to him and I think it’s a great fit for him,’’ he said. “The kid is only 17 years old. He’s still growing. I really think he’s going to be a 6-6, 300 pounder one day. I think he has a lot of growing left. I’ll be honest. I hope they can redshirt him so he gets that extra year to get a little stronger and mature. He’s grown 2 1/2 inches this year. I think he’s going to be a big old boy.’’

Joshua is excited for the opportunity East Carolina is going to give him to live up to that potential.

“I’ll do anything that needs to be done to help them win,’’ Joshua Clark said. “It’s a great opportunity for me and I plan to make the most of it.’’

[View thumbnail sketches of other players verbally committed to join ECU's recruiting class of 2008.]

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11/21/2007 03:39:20 AM


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