Hudson Clark earns praise for attitude and ability

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, September 9, 2023
Arkansas defensive back Hudson Clark (17) reacts after catching an interception, Saturday, Sept, 2, 2023, during the first quarter against Western Carolina at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Visit for the photo gallery.
( Hank Layton)
Arkansas defensive back Hudson Clark (17) reacts after catching an interception, Saturday, Sept, 2, 2023, during the first quarter against Western Carolina at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Visit for the photo gallery.

FAYETTEVILLE — Hudson Clark has run out of positions to play in the secondary for Arkansas.

Clark, a redshirt senior from Dallas, added nickel back to his resume last Saturday when the Razorbacks beat Western Carolina 56-13 in the season opener in Little Rock.

Previously Clark had played cornerback and safety, both spots in some games last season when the secondary was hit hard by injuries.

Against Western Carolina, Clark spilt his 40 snaps on defense between nickel back and safety and had an interception and two tackles.

Clark graded 80.3% in pass coverage, 76.8% on tackling and 79.1% overall according to Pro Football Focus.

“It’s hard,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said of Clark playing multiple positions as a defensive back. “Even though you’re playing secondary, they’re all different.

“They’re different techniques. Obviously different assignments. To be able to do that says a lot about him. To be able to do that willingly says more about him.”

Clark, who has 138 career tackles and 15 pass breakups in 33 games going into today’s matchup against Kent State, said he began getting practice reps at nickel back last spring and continued to get more in camp while also working at safety.

“Just that I’m a versatile player, I guess,” Clark said when asked what playing three spots in the secondary says about him. “And whatever the coaches need me to do, I’ll do.”

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Clark has 21 starts, including 10 last season, but he played off the bench against Western Carolina with the Razorbacks going with a lineup of cornerbacks Dwight McGlothern and Jaheim Singletary, nickel back Lorando Johnson and safeties Jayden Johnson and Al Walcott.

“We had told [Clark] that he was going to go in on the third series and the defense went two three-and-outs, and Hud goes to Coach [Marcus] Woodson and says, ‘Hey, you know they’ve only been out there six plays, I don’t know if they’ve really had enough plays to get in the groove of the game,’ ” Pittman said. “That’s just kind of who he is and he’s the ultimate team guy.

“He’s been as valuable as anybody we’ve had to the team.”

Clark went in on defense for the third series as planned, but that didn’t change the point Pittman made about his unselfish attitude.

“I mean, nobody does that,” Pittman said of a player saying his teammates might need more reps before he goes in. “Not many. I wouldn’t.

“If they told me the third series, I don’t care if it was two plays those guys got out there, if it’s the third series, put me in.

“But he did have that conversation. I love the kid. Love a lot of them, but he’s a very unselfish guy.

“He could’ve went in the tank when we told him that, ‘You know, hey we’re not going to send you out there. You are a starter in our mind, but we’re not going to send you out there first.’

“A lot of kids go in the tank on you. This guy’s going, ‘Hey, I don’t think they’ve had enough reps to get acclimated to a game quite yet.’

“It also tells you that he’s a mature guy that understands.”

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Clark got the first of Arkansas’ five turnovers when he intercepted a pass by Charlie Dean at the Western Carolina 31-yard line.

On the next play, KJ Jefferson threw a touchdown pass to Issac TeSlaa to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 21-0 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

“We were just in cover two,” Clark said. “I was in a hook and so I got a bang on the receiver and then kind of sunk.

“Just reading the quarterback and his eyes took me to the ball. Just got a good jump on it.”

It was Clark’s fifth career interception. His first three interceptions came against Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in 2020 — a game that earned Clark a scholarship as a redshirt freshman — and his fourth was at BYU last season.

“He’s a guy to learn from,” Arkansas freshman linebacker Brad Spence said of Clark. “See how he plays his role and how he plays his football.

“As a freshman I just look to learn from the older guys.”

Dean and Cole Gonzales combined for 224 passing yards for Western Carolina, but the Razorbacks had four interceptions, including an 85-yard touchdown return by Spence. McGlothern and Jayden Johnson also had interceptions.

“I think it definitely helped us have a place to build on,” Clark said. “We weren’t perfect, we’ve got a lot to improve on as a secondary.

“We’re headed in the right direction. We just have to keep working.”


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