Buffs ask lineman to walk on | AspenTimes.com

Buffs ask lineman to walk on

Nate Peterson

Aspen High senior offensive lineman David Clark received recruiting letters this fall from small schools such as Division II Mesa State in Grand Junction and Missouri’s William Jewell College. It was nice to know someone noticed him, but Clark said he never had any interest in playing football anywhere other than the University of Colorado.Now he’s got his chance.A few weeks ago, Clark, who is 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 280 pounds, met with CU football coach Dan Hawkins, who asked Clark to try to walk on for the Buffaloes next fall in Boulder.The Buffs then sent Clark an official request to walk on. The senior also plans to sign a letter of intent on Feb. 9, the first day high school seniors can commit to a school. “He told me they’d love to have me, but they couldn’t offer me a scholarship because they’ve already signed seven offensive lineman,” Clark said of his meeting with Hawkins. Clark first met the new Buffs boss this summer at the coach’s official camp in Boulder and then stayed in contact with CU coaches throughout this fall. He sent game tape to Hawkins’ staff, while his father, Tom, wrote letters detailing his son’s zeal for CU football.It was a bit of reverse recruiting, Clark admitted, but when you play for one a small school on the Western Slope, it’s hard to get noticed – even when you have the frame to play big-time college football.”I know the difference between [Division I] and Mesa State,” Clark said. “And I know there’s a big difference between high school and college. It’s vast. I’ve been training in the weight room now for four years to get up to the level I want to be at, and I know I’m still not there yet.”Clark’s grandfather played football for the Buffs in the 1930s, and both his parents, Tom and Linda, and his two older siblings attended college in Boulder. Clark said family tradition has more to do with his decision to try to walk on at CU than anything else.Hawkins is known as a stellar recruiter, and despite an underachieving 2-10 record in his first season, looks to have the Buffs back on the right track after Gary Barnett’s scandal-plagued tenure. According to an Associated Press story, the Buffs’ 2007 recruiting class is ranked third in the Big 12 and No. 21 nationally. Hawkins also locked up an oral commitment from a five-star recruit, offensive lineman Ryan Miller of Columbine, who picked the Buffaloes over Notre Dame. Miller is the No. 2-rated offensive lineman in the country.”My take on him is that CU could not have found a better coach,” Clark said. “He’s the real deal. But to be honest with you, he played virtually no part in my wanting to go to CU.”Aspen football coach Travis Benson said he believes Clark is capable of playing at a Division I school like CU if he works just as hard as he did in his four years at Aspen.”He’s a workhorse,” Benson said. “He has that blue-collar mentality about him. He’s someone who makes sure that he’s going to get the work done and get better. That’s the biggest reason he’s has this opportunity.”Clark is working with strength coach Eric Bollack at Bleeker Street Gym to get ready for next season. He hopes put on at least 15 pounds of muscle and gain more speed before he arrives in Boulder. Clark said he runs about a 5.5-second 40-yard dash, which he wants to whittle down to about 5.3.He also said it’s likely that if he does walk on CU’s roster, he’ll likely redshirt as a freshman.Clark is the second Aspen player in as many years with Division I aspirations: Linebacker David Goldberg, who graduated from Aspen in May, plans on playing for Joe Paterno at Penn State despite spending this fall in town recuperating from surgery on both knees. Goldberg said his decision not to enroll at Penn State this past semester was to preserve his eligibility.Aside from Goldberg, Clark said he hasn’t heard of any other Aspen graduates playing football at the Division I level. A handful have gone on to the lower division ranks, but no one has ever tried to play for the state’s largest university.”Not in the last 10 years at least,” Clark said. “I asked around.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.