I rarely add a forum topic to the board, but there is an awesome and inspiring article on Frank Clark over at the Freep. Writer Mark Snyder goes into the desperate and challenging background Clark came from, the many obstacles and challenges he has faced, and some of his hopes for the future.
Here are a few quotes, more than usual, because some of you want to avoid clicking the Freep:
It wasn’t easy, drifting from shelter to shelter with his mother at night, her battling drug addiction. But Clark understood this was his life and he didn’t know much else. Until his friend was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of a church.
The boys weren’t even teenagers, but that was enough for Clark’s mother to put her son on his first plane, by himself, to live with his father’s family in Cleveland.
“Where I’m from, there’s not too many kids that make it past a certain age,” Clark explained at Tuesday’s Big Ten media days. “It’s the definition of what people look at like the ’hood. The struggles that I endured as a youth, things like … seeing my mom work multiple jobs just to put food in my and my brothers’ mouths. Finding a way to football practice even if I had to walk an hour and a half to get to practice. “My mom was tired of seeing me struggle after my brothers got older. She made the decision I had to move to Cleveland for it to be a better life.”
And regarding his potential:
Though he has yet to reach his freakish on-field potential, as a 277-pounder end who says he can run a 4.5 40-yard dash, Clark’s numbers and impact have steadily improved each year.
Nearly as important, he has stayed clear of off-field trouble. Given his roots, that’s no small feat.
“We always believed that Frank is going to get it,” Hoke said Tuesday. “You go back to Ted Ginn and how he’s handled everything. And Greg Mattison, the relationship he and Frank have had since Day 1. And the relationship Frank and I have had since Day 1. One that’s always been very honest and sometimes not fun for Frank. Or not fun for a coach either.”
Clark has first-round NFL potential. But to reach that, he’ll need to make a leap to the upper echelon.
“My mother struggled with drugs and it inspires me to do the best I can on the field,” he said. “Because I always want to help her. I want to put money back in her pocket. I used to watch her work to put food in my mouth, despite her addiction. It came to a point where I can do that, that’s all I want to do. She’s still my mother. Despite all the disagreements, the arguments, at the end if it wasn’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be here. I probably would have ended up somewhere in California.
“I’m so happy she made it for me to leave so I could come to Cleveland.”
She hasn’t seen a game in person and Clark made that one of his goals this season, hoping his mother could attend at some point, maybe even senior day.
I wish Clark well, really hope he has a breakout season, and puts everything together this year.