Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling defensive lineman Steven Clark.
Dino Babers was very plain in describing what makes or breaks a Tampa 2 defense during spring practice.
“You have to have four man pressure (on the defensive line),” Babers said. “It makes it very difficult to play if you don’t have pressure.”
One of those four players applying the pressure will be defensive tackle Stephen Clark. The sophomore was one of 15 true freshmen to play last season for Syracuse, and he made the most of it, with 21 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss.
His most productive game came against Louisville, when he finished with three tackles, two fumble recoveries, and batted down a pass. The new coaching staff will be looking for more of that from Clark.
“Last year, we used to blitz a lot,” Clark said during spring practice. “They didn’t rely on us to stop the run, but this year, we are going to rely on us to stop the run. As a D-line, we’re up to the challenge.”
It was also a challenge with a new coaching staff coming in, but so far, so good, Clark said.
“I love them. They’re very energetic. There’s an energy around here, it’s contagious. It’s catching on.”
Inside slant: Clark was listed as the backup nose tackle behind Kayton Samuels at the end of spring practice. But there’s plenty that will change between now and the start of the season, especially with an inexperience D-line unit. Clark will likely play a huge role for the Syracuse defense this season.
- Birthdate: January 1997
- Hometown: Arab, Ala.
- High School: Brindlee Mountain
- Position: Defensive lineman
- Class: Sophomore
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 311 lbs
Career highlights: Clark appeared in all 12 games, and was one of 15 true freshmen to play. He finished with 21 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss.
Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.