Weight: 277 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) Glenville
Position: Defensive end
Jersey number: #57
Last year: I ranked Clark #7 and said he would be the starting weakside end with 50 tackles and 8 sacks. He made 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a touchdown), and 1 pass breakup.
Clark got a ton of hype going into 2013. He promptly disappointed a lot of fans in the first three games. But from week four onward, he stepped up his game. If you pretend he was injured against Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Akron, he made 39 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in nine games! That's pretty impressive. His season highlight was probably the fumble returned for a touchdown against Penn State, but it might also have been his 9 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against Michigan State. There were several solid outings - enough to be named Second Team All-Big Ten - but it's hard to cleanse the bitter taste from your mouth after that ineffectual start.
But hey, it's a new year. We're all a year older and a year smarter and a year closer to paying off our mortgages. Oh, happy day! Clark has put on just a couple pounds since last year, and despite being 20 lbs. heavier than Brennen Beyer, he's staying on the weak side. Michigan faces a couple patsies within the first few weeks, so in a year when he should be trying to show off for the impending NFL Draft, he had better get off to a faster start. Furthermore, the opposing offensive tackles he'll face this year should be a little less talented, so I expect a significant - but not outlandish - jump in production. Even though he might not be Michigan's most talented defensive player, he's ranked this high because the backups at weakside are few and unproven. With Beyer and sophomore Taco Charlton over on the strong side, the only experienced backup is junior Mario Ojemudia. After him it's freshman Lawrence Marshall, who would ideally redshirt but will probably play a few snaps here and there like Ojemudia did in 2012. It's important that Clark stay healthy because Beyer is not a good pass rusher, and the interior defensive linemen only have that thing called "potential." I'll stick with with my slightly updated prediction for last year.
Prediction: 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks