FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt freshman walk-on cornerback Hudson Clark has gone from some fans wondering who he is to scratching their heads how the Hogs could land such a talented player without giving him a scholarship.
Clark chose Arkansas out of Highland Park (Texas) and redshirted as a true freshman in 2019. This season when junior Montaric Brown went down with an injury Clark emeraged as his replacement. In a 33-21 victory over Ole Miss in Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Clark picked off three passes and had five tackles. Clark said he once previously had three interceptions in one game.
“I had a lot of two interception games,” Clark said. “I did have one (three interception) game my freshman year of high school. But that’s the only time.”
Clark was quick to credit Barry Odom and Sam Carter for the preparation they do for the players prior to each game.
“Coach Odom and Coach Carter, they work really hard,” Clark said. “They put out a good scheme and allow us to just work off that. We saw from the previous games that they’d run the scissors route out of that first concept. And so I was trying to midpoint the guy underneath … I just broke off the ball.
“Then on the second one, they were running those quick outs because our corners, we were in a zone most of the game. And so I just saw that and read it off the quarterback. It was just a lot of preparation throughout the week. Again, Coach Carter, Coach Odom, they put out a great game plan and we just benefitted off of it.”
Safety Jalen Catalon intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown as well as recovering a Matt Corral fumble. Clark talked about the game plan the coaches had for Ole Miss.
“The game plan, they tried to keep it as simple as possible,” Clark said. “We were in zone most of the time, then we’d run a little blitz to and put an extra guy in the box.
“We just saw how fast they would go and how fast they got set up. I felt like it was easier for us to be able to sit back in the zone and read the quarterback. Because we worked on that all throughout practice.”
Corral entered Saturday’s game having only thrown one pick. That came in the season opener. Any thought you guys could get six today?
“Definitely,” Clark said. “Coach Carter had been telling us all week that we had a chance to be one of the best secondaries to come through Arkansas. We were just able to throughout practice. We got a lot of picks in practice. I mean, it’s different on the field, but that was definitely a confidence booster.”
Linebacker Grant Morgan also had an interception he returned for a touchdown. He said Arkansas’ defense wants to be a trendsetter and show others how to play against these offenses.
“Coach Odom said that last night,” Clark said. “He’s been saying that all week. He said that against Mississippi State. That people should look at what we do on the field and mimic what we do.”
Arkansas has now faced Georgia, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss. It seems the defense is gaining confidence each week.
“I’ve always gone into games trying to do my job, whatever I can,” Clark said. “And so it’s kind of just a big trust thing. All my teammates trust me. The coaches trust me, and I trust them. They’re my brothers and I’d do anything for them. They’ve been encouraging me all week.
“Greg (Brooks Jr.) said it before the season started. He came up to me and was like,’ You’re going to play. You’re going to make some plays.’ They’ve had my back throughout the whole season.”
Both your parents graduated from the University of Arkansas. You have family living in Arkansas. What does it mean to you to put on that Arkansas uniform?
“I came out to the game in Dallas, that’s where I’m from,” Clark said. “It’s just a huge dream I had growing up. It’s just been amazing to see that be a reality for me.”
This was Arkansas’ first SEC win in Reynolds Razorback Stadium since Nov. 5, 2016. How did it feel?
“We worked our butts off coming into the season and seeing it unfold like it has,” Clark said.
“Coaches dancing, It was amazing.”
Arkansas will have a bye this next week before facing Texas A&M on Oct. 31.