The 2015 and 2016 recruiting cycles saw Ole Miss struggle to land elite talent at the linebacker position, but with the commitment from three-star Josh Clarke, Hugh Freeze seems to be putting an emphasis on the position. The New Orleans native, who pledged to the Rebs in a particularly terrible video released Monday night via The Times-Picayune, is the sixth commitment in the 2017 class and hopefully the first of many linebackers.
Ok, but seriously, how is a major newspaper this bad at editing a video?
Oh yea, because it's a major newspaper.
Clarke has yet to receive an offer from LSU, which seems odd considering the rest of his offer sheet: Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Cal and Texas. We've seen this before from LSU, which sometimes slow plays prospects before jumping in with a late offer.
With the misses in 2015 (Leo Lewis) and 2016 (Mique Juarez and David Luafatasaga) it appears that the defensive staff is making the second level of the Landsharks defense a top priority. Securing a commitment from Clarke is a great first step. As a junior at Riverdale High School, Clarke collected 149 tackles, 18 sacks, six forced fumbles, six interceptions and three touchdowns. Not bad.
How does he fit in?
It's a good thing that commitment video isn't indicative of how he plays the position. Clarke is every bit of 6'3, 225 and runs extremely well. He's one of those long, athletic outside linebackers that Dave Wommack loves to play at the line of scrimmage. At Riverdale High School, Clarke plays defensive end as well but will definitely be on the second level in Oxford. He will definitely compete with incoming freshman Donta Evans for playing time at the very, very thin position.
He utilizes his long arms and stout frame to fight off pulling guards and running backs and takes very good angles to the football. Once he arrives at the ball carrier he is not bringing a welcome basket by any means. Josh is a devastating tackler and has an aggressive approach in the open field. Personally, I look for him to compete immediately due to his frame and elite athleticism.