“Everyone knows I had to have surgery. It’s no secret,” he said. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first round or the third round. We still have to play football at the end of the day.”
That attitude is part of what drew the Cowboys to Clark. A native of Baton Rouge, La., he played 50 games in four years in his hometown of LSU. During the final two years of that career, he earned the program’s prestigious No. 18 jersey, awarded to a player with a track record on the field, as well as “a selfless attitude that has become the quintessential LSU football player.”
After first meeting him at the Senior Bowl in January, Will McClay, Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel, said that attitude came through.
“When you sat down and talked to him, he was all business, he was all about the ball,” McClay said. “He wore that number at LSU for a reason, and you got that feeling when you met him.”
Clark was the 16th player to wear that number since LSU began the tradition in 2004, and some have extended that success to the NFL.
“The other guy who wore it before me for two years was Tre’Davious White, so it’s great company to have,” Clark said.
The obvious downside is that the Cowboys will have to wait a bit for Clark to bring that attitude to the field. He underwent surgery in late March and recovery time is estimated at around six months. While it’s interesting to note that Cowboys officials have expressed optimism he could be available at some point during the 2022 season.
“I feel good about this guy and how he’s going to do his business and how much he loves the game,” said Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones. “I really think we have this in hand and this guy is a hell of a football player when he’s healthy and I think he’ll be healthy.”
If that’s the case, it’s nothing short of a bargain. The Cowboys confirmed after the draft that they had graded Clark in the third round before his surgery. It’s certainly plausible that someone would have drafted him even sooner had he been sane.
On the plus side, Clark is using this natural behavior in his recovery, which can only be good for him and the Cowboys.
“I have to attack my rehab to get back on the field, so I’m treating everything the same,” Clark said. “I need to attack rehab so I can get back on the field so I know what I need to do and I will do it. The more I engage and tune into rehab, the better it will be for me.”
Given this approach, it’s no wonder Clark is focused on what the future holds – and why the Cowboys were happy to bet on him.