Clark Aiming For Success At Fortius Project
If one were to think about a “workhorse” in class 6A, it would be rare for 2019 running back Rodrigues Clark not to be one of the first thoughts. After a 450 yard rushing season and splitting carries as a sophomore, the coaches were confident that they were in good hands with Clark carrying the load on the ground. Then 16 games later, he ended up leading class 6A in rushing yards, rushing for 1,705 yards and 17 touchdowns on 290 carries. It wasn’t just handed to him, however, he earned it, playing in 6A Region 2, arguably Mississippi’s toughest region.
“Well first of all, I want to thank God and my teammates for helping me get better,” Clark told SES Mississippi. “I just knew that if I work to be the best in the summer, everything else was going to fall into place.”
As the 2017 wound down, it was evident that he was getting better and better. His career high of 175 rushing yards came against 6A’s top scoring defense on the biggest stage, the state championship game. The Yellowjackets fell just short to Pearl that night, but the Pirates were having fits trying to stop Clark. He may have been giving Pearl flashbacks to a year earlier when another running back was running over them in the title game with his performance, that player: 2016 Mr. Elite winner Cam Akers. He has the same number, and same bad intentions. Akers is someone Clark tries to replicate snap after snap.
“I feel like [Pearl] wanted it more because they lost the year before that to Clinton. Cam Akers is my favorite running back. I wanted to show them that I was another Cam Akers,” Clark said.
The season was obviously one to remember for Clark, but even he admits that it wouldn’t have happened without some good coaching. First year head coach Chris Jones played a big role in his performance this past season according to Clark.
“For one, [Jones] is like another brother to me. He’s a real one, going to keep it real with me all the time,” Clark said. “All he thinks about is about getting better. We have fun at our practices all the time, but we still work. I feel like he’s one of the reasons why I broke out like I did last year.”
One of the things on his offseason agenda is the Fortius Project held at Northeast Mississippi Community College on March 24th. There, he will look to master two areas of his game that Akers was a cut above most while he was at Clinton.
“Working on my speed and vision is what I plan on working on at the Fortius Project camp,” Clark said.
Clark and his Yellowjacket teammates are looking for “the process” to lead them to Hattiesburg this season and finish the job as state champions.
**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.