On Thursday evening Rivals100 offensive tackle Austin Clark took the next step in his recruitment. The Lexington (Va.) Rockbridge star announced via Twitter that Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech are his top seven schools.
Clark explained what he likes about each school. He made it clear that he has no favorites right now and that there is no order to his top seven, listed alphabetically below.
Clemson: "That's a school I was really excited about," said the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Clark. "I hadn't talked to them before I got a message on Facebook from coach Venables inviting me down to their junior day. That was a surprise school that I really liked and I'm really glad I went. I talk to coach Caldwell a lot and I really like the things that he's had to say."
Ohio State: "That was a big offer for me when I got it back in December," he said. "I've been up there twice before, once for a game and once for camp. It's one school I've always really liked. It was one of those schools I really wanted an offer from."
Penn State: "I've liked them ever since I went up there for my first game," Clark said. "Just going up there and seeing the whole atmosphere and everything was pretty cool. They bring great education to the table but they also bring big-time football to the table, that Big Ten style. I really like everything about Penn State and I really like what coach Franklin has going on up there."
South Carolina: "I went to visit there before their junior day and I just felt right at home," he said. "Coach Elliott, coach Spurrier and everybody showed me around. I really liked what I saw there in terms of the program, the facilities, the education and the coaches. I was really impressed with everything."
Tennessee: "I've been to Tennessee a few times as well," said Clark. "Every time I'm there I really feel at home since I've been there so much. I've built a great relationship with the whole coaching staff. Since the first time I was there I knew they would be in my top seven."
Virginia: "They were my first offer and that's a big part of it," he said. "The things I like most about them are the academics and I have a good relationship with the coaching staff. The last time I was at Virginia was for their junior day when the basketball team played Syracuse."
Virginia Tech: "The fact that they are so close to home is a big part of it but so was the visit last week," Clark said. "I got to watch practice and talk to Coach Searels. I got a good feel for how he likes to coach. That is what really solidified their position in the top seven."
Clark is hoping to take a few more visits in the near future, including one to a school not in his top seven.
"I definitely want to make it back to a couple of the schools," he said. "Miami is one that was hard to not include in my top seven. I really like Miami but I haven't been there yet. I definitely want to make it down there to see what they have to offer. I really want to make it back up to the other schools that are in my top seven. I don't know when I'm going to go yet."
Expect Clark's recruitment to move fairly quickly now.
"I'm actually planning on graduating early so I want to make an early decision," said Clark. "I want to make my decision in early June. I think once it gets closer to June I'll narrow it down to a top two or three.
"Official visits aren't something I've really thought enough about," he said. "It will all depend on where I am after I commit."
Clark is slated to compete at the 2014 Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.