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Saturday, June 22, 2013
Haubert: DT Clark a handful in the trenches

By Craig Haubert

The Gators' latest catch, defensive tackle Khairi Clark, is a giant player who can be a real disruptive presence along the line.

What he brings: Clark is 300-pounds with good strength and flashes a quick first step. The big man displays the natural tools to be a three-down defensive tackle with further development. When he keeps his pads low coming off the ball, he is capable of being a disruptive presence. Against the run he can be tough to move off the ball with one blocker when he stays low, and he displays strong hands to be able to shed defenders and make a play. Can also fire out and drive blockers back to press the pocket as a pass rusher. He can be a handful, but pad level is an area of his game he needs to work on. He can get away with it some at his current level, with a size/strength advantage, but once he hits the SEC, he will need to work to consistently keep his pads down if he is going to be as effective as he is capable of being.

History at position: Florida has produced excellent players at multiple positions over the years, and that includes along the defensive line. The Gators have had good coaches working with that unit in recent years, with the likes of  Greg Mattison and more recently Bryant Young. There is a new D-line coach now, but this unit still looks to be in good hands with Brad Lawing, who came to Gainesville from South Carolina.

Prediction for performance: Clark is a big, strong lineman who can compete in the trenches, but how quickly and successfully in the long haul depends on a few things. How quickly can he contribute will depend some on what type of strides he can make in improving his play technically. He’ll need to do a better job of managing his pad level and improve hand usage to be able to successfully contribute early on.

In the long haul it will depend on how he manages his weight and continues to develop and be consistent in technique. The natural tools are there for the big man to be a valuable contributor in the heart of the trenches for the Gators.  It’s really more a matter of him taking care of the little things that can allow him to best maximize that natural ability. If he does, he could work his way into the rotation early on and develop into a more prominent role.

How the class is shaping up: The Gators signed seven D-linemen in their 2013 class, and Clark gives them three in this class along with DT Anthony Moten and Taven Bryan, a defensive end who could develop into a defensive tackle down the road or fill a 'swing' role.

Overall the Gators now have 11 verbal commitments, with seven among the ESPN 300. They currently sit with a top ten class for 2014.