Clark having good summer, ready to help Jackets

Rodrigues Clark (28)
Staff Writer

Not many players can handle the adversity placed on them like Rodrigues Clark, especially early on in their careers. 
The Starkville High running back is coming off not one, but two serious leg injuries including a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the middle of last season. The first injury came towards the end of his freshman year in high school when he was close to finishing out with the high school team in its run to the state championship. 
Last year Clark had become the team’s main running back as a sophomore in his first year of high school football. He rushed 88 times for 450 yards and five touchdowns before going down with injury. 
Despite back-to-back heartbreaking injuries, he’s continued to come back stronger. This summer he’s producing again. 
“I’m 100 percent,” Clark said of last year’s injury. “Having the leg injury before last season, I was a little skeptical of getting re-injured and it was one reason why I didn’t have the season I wanted to have.
“I put all of that behind me and I’m going to keep looking into the future. I’m good.”
Clark’s work ethic and sheer ability quickly turned the head of new SHS head coach Chris Jones. Playing football at the highest level in the National Football League and coaching for several years to this point, Jones has seen good players. 
Even so, he sees something special out of young Clark. 
“We have a stable of running backs, but this kid Rodrigues Clark, I haven’t seen many better than him,” Jones said. “He has a chance to be one of the better running backs in the state and possibly the nation. I just feel like with his work ethic and things that we like to do, he just fits.”
That statement isn’t anything that Clark takes lightly. He’s come up around great athletes in Starkville and played with good ones as well. 
Despite the early hype, he’s not satisfied with just a few nice remarks. He feels he has some unfinished business still ahead with two years yet to play in high school and not much proven to this point. 
Clark has begun trying to prove himself on the camp circuit this summer. He’s already been to several campuses and was with his team in their 7-on-7 workouts the last few weeks. 
Last Saturday, the home town product made his way up the street to Mississippi State. Clark worked with several running backs as position coach Greg Knox went through drills with them. 
It was a great experience to take in with some of his teammates. 
“It was fun and competitive," Clark said of MSU's camp experience. "I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before. I worked a lot on the one-cut drills with my right and left foot and my vision.”
Southern Miss and MSU have been the early suitors for Clark with more on the way if he stays healthy. Things are still very fresh in recruiting so he isn’t too worried about the process at the moment. 
For now, the talented and relentless runner is searching for gold. He got to watch from the bench as SHS won a state title two years ago and now he’s hoping to help bring one home himself this season. 
“Our expectations are being state champs," Clark said. "I want to get a ring. I’m really excited, but I’ve got a lot to prove to myself, the people and the team. We fell short last year, so we’ve got to come back even harder than last year.”