FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas redshirt junior defensive back Hudson Clark has been nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy.
The award is given to a player who began their career as a walk-on. The award is named after former Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth. Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan became the first Razorback to win the award last year. He was a finalist the previous year as well. Following practice Tuesday, Clark talked about what being nominated for this award means to him.
“That’s an awesome honor,” Clark said. “I know Brandon Burlsworth, he was a really hard worker. Just being able to talk to Marty Burlsworth before and having that connection with him has been a blessing and that’s a real honor for me.”
Clark has played both cornerback and middle safety this season. He leads the team with eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. In addition, Clark has 32 tackles, 16 solo, a pair for loss, one interception and two forced fumbles. He talked about being versatile enough to play both cornerback and middle safety.
“Yeah, I definitely take pride in knowing the playbook and being able to play both spots, and I think I’m just trying to help the team in any way possible, and I think I’m doing that,” Clark said.
Prior to the bye week in Arkansas’ road win over BYU on Oct. 15, Clark turned in a team and career high 11 tackles, four solo, with one interception and a fumble recovery, earning him the Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week along with SEC Defensive Player of the Week. With Quincey McAdoo joining Dwight McGlothern and Malik Chavis at the cornerback spot it appears that Clark may be able to settle into the middle safety spot.
“Yeah, I think so,” Clark said. “It’s definitely become more comfortable for me. It’s kind of slowing down back there, so as you play more at the position, it’s going to come more natural to you. I think it’s been helping me.”
Sam Pittman said Monday if Clark does move into the safety spot on a permanent basis he will need to bulk up some. On Tuesday, Clark talked about where he is now weight wise and his desired size at safety.
“Yeah, right now I’m probably like 179, I think,” Clark said. “Probably get to at least 190 to stick around the thing, or at least weight that sticks on like during the season. It kind of gets off. But I think weight room’s been a big part of kind of putting on muscle and strength with that, so Coach (Jamil) Walker and his staff have done a great job.”
Arkansas will host No. 23 Liberty on Saturday marking the first home game since Oct. 1 when Alabama came to Fayetteville. Liberty is the third non-conference opponent Arkansas has played this season to be ranked at one time or another. Cincinnati was ranked when they opened the season against the Hogs and BYU, while not ranked at the time they played Arkansas, spent several weeks in the Top 25.
“It’s awesome,” Clark said. “We have to prepare the same way each week for every opponent. They are 7-1, could easily be 8-0 with a play coming back to them. I think week in and out we have to prepare the same way for every opponent, and that is what has helped us so far.”
The Burlsworth Trophy, in its 13th year, is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Burlsworth walked on at Arkansas in 1994, eventually becoming a three-year starter on the offensive line and an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 63rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later.
The Burlsworth Trophy award ceremony will honor the three finalists and announce the 2022 winner at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark.
Saturday’s kickoff with Liberty is set for 3 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.