By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt junior Hudson Clark and the Razorbacks will put on full pads for the first time today as they continue to prepare for the 2022 season.

Clark, 6-2, 183, was originally a preferred walk-on from Highland Park (Texas), but earned a scholarship for his three-interception performance against Ole Miss in 2020. In 2021, Clark played in 12 games with four starts. He had 22 tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup. Clark is one of four cornerbacks Dominique Bowman said Monday was competing for a starting spot. Clark just wants to help the Razorbacks anyway he can.

“My role is just wherever coach plays me,” Clark said. “Special teams, whether he starts me or not, it really doesn’t matter to me. Just kind of doing my job, doing what I’m coached. That’s basically it.”

It didn’t take Clark long to make an impact this preseason. The first practice he picked off a pass from KJ Jefferson.

“I was throwing it to (Jadon) Haselwood on a corner route,” Jefferson said. “He [Hudson] sunk back and made a great defensive play. For me, it’s [about] being able to read the defense and also not to be too greedy in a two-minute situation. Just be disciplined. It was a great play for the defense, great play for Hudson. It’s a learning experience for the offense and for me personally.”

That interception seems to have set the tone for the defensive backs this preseason.

“A little bit,” Clark said. “Definitely a great way to end the day, but every day we come in, we work and I feel like there’s a great competition between our room and between the offense, too.”

Bowman has been impressed with what Clark has been able to do so far.

“Talking about Hudson Clark, I mean, he’s a good player,” Clark said. “He’s athletic, he’s long, he’s smart, cerebral. Hud and them have been doing a good job in camp.”

Clark has managed to add some weight and muscle while at Arkansas. Clark said he played at 176 last season.

“Yes sir,” Clark said. “I feel like our strength staff and our nutritionist have done a great job preparing me throughout the summer and spring and put on a couple of pounds. My strength has definitely gone up this summer and it’s a big thanks to them.”

While Clark has impressed Bowman, the feeling is mutual. Clark talked about what he likes about the first-year cornerbacks coach.

“He’s very detailed,” Clark said. “He lets us know exactly our key, our responsibility. And he doesn’t let it go unnoticed if we mess up. If our progressions are off, he’ll let us know for sure.”

One thing new this fall in practice is having to face former Georgia and Toledo standout wide receiver Matt Landers. The 6-foot-5, 197-pound Landers has impressed everyone including Clark.

“Matt’s a good guy,” Clark said. “He can create a lot of separate. He’s got pretty big strides. He’s definitely a new type o receiver we’ve seen this fall camp. So he’s been good for us.”

Several young defensive backs have also caught Clark’s eye. He had praise for them on Monday.

“I think they’re coming along great,” Clark said. “Having J-Lew (Jaylen Lewis) and Ant Brown in the spring has really helped them. I feel like the game has gotten a lot slower for them, and they can play faster. We’ve got a lot of depth. At corner we’ve got us,  Keuan (Parker), Khari (Johnson), Nudie (Dwight McGlothern), Courtney (Snelling). We’ve got a lot of depth. If somebody goes down, it’s next man up and the standard is the standard.”

A returning player who is drawing praise from everyone watching the secondary is Myles Slusher. The former Broken Arrow (Okla.) four-star has impressed Clark at the nickel position.

“I mean, I feel like he can play any position in the DBs,” Clark said. “We’ve seen him at corner, nickel and safety, just kind of all throughout his career, so I think he can bring. He brings a lot to the table. He’s very versatile and, like Malik (Chavis) said, he can tackle, he can cover, he can do it all.”

Chavis is a cornerback who is competing with Clark, McGlothern and LaDarrius Bishop for a starting spot.

“Same thing on Hudson he’s just a good player all around,” Chavis said of Clark. “He’s smart. Will be in the right place at the right time. Got great technique. Just a good overall player.”

Regardless who lines up at cornerback it appears the Hogs are set to use more man coverage this season.

“I think we’re a lot more prepared kind of going into it,” Clark said. “Coach Bowman’s got us working our technique a lot better and using it almost like … we’re blitzing a lot, so we’ve got a lot of practice with it in the spring. I feel like we’ve definitely progressed there.”

Sam Pittman likes to portray the Hogs as the underdog. He wants his players to have a chip on their shoulder. Clark talked about the attitude of the team entering 2022.

“Last year was great, but last year was last year,” Clark said. “We’ve definitely got something to prove. We’ve got some people counting us out, but we’re a tight group. We’ve really grown a lot together. So we’ve got that little chip on our shoulder getting ready for this football season.”

Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 3, hosting Cincinnati at 2:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN.