Nearly two weeks after making his verbal commitment to Ohio State, Dominic Clarke is able to focus on his upcoming senior season of football at Frederick (Md.) Tuscarora.
When the season finally kicks off, the defensive back, who chose Ohio State while on a visit in early June, is looking forward to the chance to making some noise with his teammates during his final season of high school ball.
“Now that the recruiting business is out of the way, I just kind of want to go work out with my teammates now instead of going up and down the road for camps and all that,” Clarke said. “That’s one thing that makes it a little bit easier for me – I can spend more time with my teammates. I know for college I’m set, but this is my first goal here is to get past high school.
“We’re going to have a good team this year, and hopefully we’ll win a state championship. We’ve got the guys to do it. We have a lot of talented guys on our team.”
From there, Clarke had the chance to jump off on a tangent, showing a little bit of his character in the process.
“That’s another thing I want to tell you abut the recruiting process,” Clarke said. “A lot of people, they see me, they never knew where Tuscarora was until I started doing well in the combines and stuff like that. Now I think that with me doing well, bringing a lot of colleges to the school will help my teammates get noticed.
“There are some good, legitimate ballplayers on my team. They just haven’t had the opportunity to get out. That’s why I like this: because it also shines a light on them, too.”
With that in mind, it’s hard not to see why Clarke was attracted to the Ohio State football program. There are many different reasons for a football prospect to commit to a university, but for Clarke, it appears Ohio State had the total package.
The 5-10, 168-pound cornerback, Scout’s 32nd-ranked player at the position, made the choice while on a visit to Ohio State with his father James, mother Barbara and sister Krystal.
While on the visit, Clarke was able to make a connection with the Ohio State coaching staff, mentioning time spent with assistant recruiting coordinator Greg Gillum, wideouts coach Darrell Hazell (who recruited him) and running backs coach Dick Tressel.
“The coaches really seemed like they liked me and knew who I was and all that,” he said. “They were really personal people, and I could see myself being coached by them and being around them. I had the feeling that this was the place for me.”
After returning to his hotel, Clarke talked it over with his family and came back to the Ohio State elite camp on June 8 intent on making his intentions known.
“I was talking to (some coaches and recruits) and I just pulled a hat out of my bag, put it on my head and said I wanted to join the team,” Clarke said. “They were shocked. They weren’t expecting me to do that. They were like, ‘Congratulations,’ and all that. Coach (Jim) Tressel was like, ‘Where is a camera when we need it?’ They weren’t expecting that. When I went down there, I had the feeling that this was the place for me.”
Clarke had also favored Virginia, a school much closer to his home and to the roots of his family, which is mostly from the commonwealth. He also had developed a good rapport with UVA running backs coach Anthony Poindexter.
However, a major factor in Clarke’s decision was that Ohio State offers a criminal justice major, something Virginia does not. Clarke was in town when he committed in order to check out the academic side of the Ohio State football program.
“There are different job opportunities you can get for (criminal justice),” he said. “I think I want to be something like Secret Service or something like that. That’s not really a job where your whole day you sit there behind a computer because that’s just something that I don’t want to do. Plus, even if I do come undecided, they have something like more than 150 majors so there are still a lot of different choices.”
Earlier this spring, Ohio State received a commitment from another Maryland defensive back, Darrell Givens of Indian Head, before he later switched his commitment to Penn State because he had a better chance to play early there.
Don’t expect such a switch for the same reasons by Clarke, however.
“I want to elevate my game to the next level,” he said. “I might as well go to where I’m going to play against the best because in the end it can only make me better. I’m not really worried about competing because that’s what I wanted to do.”