FAYETTEVILLE — Hudson Clark has gone from an unknown to many prior to the season to starter because of injuries to others, but he’s now also playing because he has earned the time.
Clark chose Arkansas out of Highland Park (Texas) High School as a preferred walk-on. He redshirted in 2019 as a true freshman, but in his second year he has impressed Sam Pittman and his defensive coaches. Following the win over Mississippi State in Week 2 Pittman praised Clark.
“I loved him,” Pittman said. “He played a really good game. To be honest with you, we had a meeting this morning about playing the players, and Barry (Odom) and Sam Carter, they were going to play him regardless if someone had gotten hurt or not. He had earned playing time and he was looking really good, and I agreed with them. It was nice to see him do some special things and be a huge part of a big win.”
What did you do in practice that led to Pittman making that statement?
“I had some plays in camp and so did a lot of other people,” Clark said. “I think just having a bunch of reps in camp really helped me because I was able to make some plays and gain coach’s trust. We didn’t have a spring, so this was really our time to show them what we had.”
Clark started the Auburn game. He was second on the team with seven tackles and also added a pass breakup in the tough 30-28 loss to the Tigers. What was it like to start a big SEC game?
“It was great to see all that hard work have a result,” Clark said. “It’s great to be out there with my teammates. They really encouraged me and let me feel natural out there.”
Were you a little nervous though?
“I was a little nervous beforehand, but once you hit the field it’s just like any other game you played in,” Clark said. “My teammates like Jalen Catalon, Greg Brooks, Joe (Foucha), they’re all behind me and had my back. So I felt comfortable out there.”
Due the uncertainties in college football this fall with the COVID, how much did it help that Pittman opted to give everyone reps knowing they may be needed during the season?
“I think that got me a huge benefit, because I was getting the same amount of reps as Busta (Montaric Brown) and Jerry (Jacobs),” Clark said. “So whenever my number did get called I was ready because once they went down it was just next man up.”
Carter came to Arkansas from Missouri and coaches the cornerbacks. How has he helped get you prepared?
“He was a huge help,” Carter said. “He works really hard. He stays up late watching a lot of film. He’s been a huge encouragement and a huge help, to not just me, but our whole secondary.”
Both Clark’s parents graduated from the University of Arkansas. They bleed Razorback red. How big was it to play such a big role the past two weeks?
“It was an amazing feeling,” Clark said. “I’ve been an Arkansas fan my whole life. Both my parents went here. My grandparents are from here. So, just being able to step up on the field, I kind of saw my dreams unfolding right in front of me.”
Where are your grandparents from in Arkansas?
“One side of my grandparents are from Berryville and the other ones are from West Helena,” Clark said. “I had some D2 and D3 offers and then I had some other preferred walk-ons. I always wanted to come here.”
With it looking more and more like Brown won’t be healed enough to play this week there’s a strong chance Clark gets another start. This time against Ole Miss and quarterback Matt Corral. Ole Miss is scoring points at a very fast clip.
“Just the dual-threat ability,” Clark said of Corral. “He can run. He can throw. They put up a lot of points and they’ve put up a lot of yards too. Just the ability to run and throw. We have to watch out for him in both aspects.”
Arkansas and Ole Miss will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. It’s homecoming and the game will be televised on ESPN2.