• John Macon Gillespie

What Makes Rodrigues Clark Elite

In 2017 Dreke Clark led all of 6A in rushing,with 1,705 yards, and helped carry his Starkville Yellowjackets all the way to the state title game. What separates him, even in the talented-rich 2019 graduating class in the state, is his motor. He is a workhorse.

As a sophomore in 2016 Clark carried the rock 88 times, and that total increased to 290 last fall. He averaged just shy of six yards per carry and scored 17 times on the ground. In 11 of the 14 games he appeared in last season he totaled at least 100 yards rushing, but most impressively, that included 100-yard rushing performances in each of the Jackets’ four playoff games.

Furthermore, he was at his best when his team needed him to be. Entering the 6A north championship against Madison Central, his season-high for rushing yards was 157 against Provine. He rushed for 161 yards and two scores against the Jags that night, marking his second 100-yard rushing performance against the respected MC defensive unit. Then in the state title game he would best that performance by rushing for 172 yards and two scores in a close loss to Pearl.

What makes Clark so hard for opponents to handle is his ability to do handful of things well. It starts with his balance, which serves as a base for him to break tackles with his agility or his power. He combines that with excellent acceleration and solid speed. When he sees a hole, he’s able to get through it quickly because it doesn’t take him an awfully long time to get going at his top speed. In Chris Jones’s offense, sometimes there are big plays to be made and sometimes it’s about taking what the defense gives. Clark’s ability, as well as his patience, allows him to do either.

"My coaches always tell me 'hard work pays off.' I trust the process, so it means a lot," Clark told SES Mississippi.

"It's a blessing from God. First, I want to thank him. I've just got to stay humble and work harder for more things like this."

For Clark, his selection was obvious because of his production, value to his team, consistency and ability to perform in the clutch. His talent has been on display for two years now, but he has also shown the ability to improve. Starkville plays in a division chocked full of stout defenses, and all they have managed to do is sharpen Clark. With unfinished business on the table for he and his team in 2018, look for Clark to give defenses even more headaches.

**Release schedule for the 2018 Elite 10**

#1 - Jerrion Ealy | Jackson Prep

#2 - Brandon Turnage | Lafayette

#3 - John Rhys Plumlee | Oak Grove

#4 - Rodrigues Clark | Starkville

#5 - June 25th

#6 - July 2nd

#7 - July 9th

#8 - July 16th

#9 - July 23rd

#10 - July 30th

**Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA

#JohnLukeMcCord #Starkville

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