- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
The month of January should go down as a memorable one for James Clark. That is, if he’s not too exhausted by the end of it.
The four-star New Smyrna Beach, Fla., receiver prospect is taking official visits to Nebraska, Texas and Rutgers this month. Each trip will be critical to his final college decision, and once the month ends he won’t have much time to make up his mind.
“It’s going to be a lot of flights, I can say that,” Clark said.
And then there’s the in-home visits. Clark is expecting plenty of those from recruiters over the next few weeks, too.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound slot receiver has already been to Northwestern, and that December trip gave him a good sense of what he’s looking for when checking out college campuses.
“They want you to have fun while you’re there, but what you have to consider is if this where I want to spend the next four years,” Clark said. “You have to consider if it’s a place you can call home, as far as the people around you and the resources and finding a good fit.”
For Clark, finding that perfect fit has plenty to do with what kind of offense a school offers. He likes what he’s been seeing lately from his top five schools.
The Nebraska visit comes first on Jan. 11. Clark attended one of the Huskers’ practices in Orlando leading up to the Capital One Bowl and was surprised to see Nebraska put up 31 on Georgia in a loss.
“From watching their game and looking at them, I’m loving how their offense is moving the ball against a top SEC team,” Clark said. “They can compete with anyone in the country.”
Next up is Texas on Jan. 18. The Longhorns already have a pledge from ESPN 150 slot receiver Jacorey Warrick but are seeking more speed for their receiving corps.
“They’re a great team also,” Clark said. “I feel that there’s pieces they need and are looking for in this upcoming class. I want to see how I can fit.”
Texas might be far from home, but Clark has no qualms with leaving the state of Florida for his college career.
He’s heard lots of good things about the Longhorns and is looking forward to that official visit.
“I imagine that’d be a great experience,” he said. “A lot of people have told me that’s a great school with some of the best facilities in the world. I want to get a chance to see it what all the hype is about.”
Clark will take an official visit to Rutgers the following weekend. While he does have some questions about playing in a more pro-style offense if he were to choose the Scarlet Knights, he’s hoping that school also offers a good fit.
And then there’s Florida. Clark does not have an offer from the Gators yet and doesn’t know if he’ll ever get one, but he’d like to answer that question soon. It’s possible his offer status might depend on whether the Gators land ESPN 300 receiver Demarcus Robinson.
“They showed me interest, but as far as an offer, they’ve got a top-rated kid who’s going back and forth between Clemson and Florida,” Clark said. “I think my offer is kind of based on him. It’d be nice if they offered, but I like the offers I have. They haven’t specifically told me that, but I think that’s the situation.”
Though he prefers to play in the slot in a more wide-open passing attack, Clark is willing to be flexible. What matters isn’t necessarily whether it’s a pass- or run-heavy scheme, so long as it can get the ball in his hands.
“They don’t necessarily have to throw the ball a lot, but they get their playmakers in open space,” Clark said. “Whether that’s reverses or sweeps, the offense can be primarily a run team. If they have the screen game, that gives a guy like me an opportunity to get on the field.”
The month won’t be an easy one for Clark. There’s going to be lots to like on every visit he takes, and he won’t have much time to make up his mind.
But he’s ready to get this process started, and Clark knows he’ll be happy when it’s over, no matter the result.
“I’m just looking forward to signing day coming,” he said. “It’ll make my life a lot easier.”