Clark shares experience of going from recruit to NFL starter
GLENDORA, Calif. - Kenny Clark is walking down the sidelines, watching his brother Keyshon Clark at the Rivals adizero Combine last weekend at Citrus College.
“I remember these days,” Clark said.
“It feels like it was yesterday. I got drafted, but before that I was just trying to get to UCLA and I was going to camps and trying to get my name out there for the coaches.”
The former four-star defensive tackle from Rialto (Calif.) Wilmer Carter who starred at UCLA and then was drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers in 2016 has a unique understanding of what it takes to make it big.
He imparted some of that knowledge to some combine participants. Since Clark has been through the gauntlet of recruiting and reached the NFL, his perspective matters.
“I talked to a couple of the kids just telling them I’ve been through everything you’re going through,” Clark said. “I’m not that much older than them. I’m only 22 years old. I’ve just been telling them to be humble about the process and stay focused and keep working hard at it.
The recruiting process was an intriguing one for Clark, who had offers from across the Pac-12 and some other national programs. The four-star narrowed it down to UCLA and Washington and decided staying closer to home would benefit him more.
It was a smart move.
“There is pressure because everybody has that ego,” Clark said. “Everybody thinks they should get recruited. Everybody thinks they should go to a certain school and everybody thinks they’re good at football. You should feel that way, everybody should feel that way. If you’re a good football player and you’re doing all the right things, the coaches are going to end up seeing you.
“Just like my little brother, he thinks he’s too small sometimes. I’m with my boy Jayon Brown, he went to Long Beach Poly, and he said, ‘Look how small I am, I’m an NFL linebacker. I play damn near every down in the NFL and I’m not that much bigger than you guys.’ Some of them are bigger than me.
“All the measurables and all that other stuff, if you can play football and you’re a good football player, the sky’s the limit. You want to test great and look great, but turn on the film and you can see a football player.”
Turn on Clark’s film. He’s violent, aggressive, relentless and productive. A coveted first-round pick, the former Rialto Carter star now knows what it takes to be among the best in the game.
“From college to the NFL, I’d say the speed is the biggest difference,” Clark said. “The thing about the NFL, like I was telling the kids, when you’re in the NFL you see who’s really working hard, who’s really taking their job seriously, who’s holding themselves accountable during the offseason and making sure they’re taking care of all their business. That’s the biggest thing. You have to make sure you’re on top of your stuff, make sure you stay conditioned.
“Right here before OTAs, I work out five days a week. It’s all about staying in tip-top shape and making sure you’re ready for the season. When you get to that point, you can show all the work you put in for that next season.”
And being a great defensive tackle? What does that entail?
“Part of it is being wild and having that attitude and being gritty,” Clark said. “Make sure the techniques and hands and leverage, all that kind of stuff, make sure you’re staying low, make sure your hands are always in the correct spot and when you’re pass-rushing, when you get by people you flip your hips and doing all that kind of stuff.
“It’s an attitude where you are going to beat the guy in front of you and you’re like I don’t care what it is, what he does, I’m going to beat the guy in front of me. It’s all about your attitude, your hands, your footwork and technique.”
Clark would know.