Clark Proud of Iowa Ties
Dec. 11, 2011
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
Clark joined the Iowa program as a walk-on and originally contributed on special teams as a back-up linebacker. He was moved to tight end, where in two seasons his totals included 81 receptions for 1,281 yards. He earned consensus All-America honors and was a first round selection in the 2003 NFL Draft following his junior season.
Can it really be that long ago? Clark can't believe it either.
"It's gone really fast," said Clark of his time in the NFL. "My rookie year, it felt like four years wrapped into one, just adjusting to the NFL season; it was tough. Once you get used to it, the seasons kind of rattle off. I can't believe it's my ninth year already, it has gone by fast.
"Indianapolis has been a great place to have a professional career. At this age, you just take it one game at a time, then assess everything, work on your weaknesses in the offseason, and try to come back the next year. You just take each year one at a time."
The Colts organization, and the fans in Indianapolis, has also enjoyed having Clark as part of the team. He holds Indianapolis records for a tight end in receptions and touchdowns, and is second in receiving yards, trailing only John Mackey. He also holds NFL records for tight ends for postseason receptions and yards. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season and helped the Colts win the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.
Clark played in just six games in 2010 before a season-ending injury. He has missed the last three games this season due to injury, but will be back in action before the end of the season, one that has been tough on the Colts and their fans.
"It's just been a struggle all year," said Clark. "It's unfortunate, but it's times like these that will make our team stronger and better down the road. We've had some good teams in the past; it's just been different this year, something we are learning and growing from as a team.
"We look to turn it around as soon as possible. Personally, I hope to get back soon. Injuries are part of it. You leave it all out there on the field, play every game as hard as you can, injuries can happen. You have to handle it and improve from it."
Clark was recently recognized by the Big Ten Conference by having his name on the Tight End of the Year Award. The Kwalick-Clark Award went to Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore, and Clark was on hand to present the award as part of the Big Ten's championship weekend in Indianapolis.
"I thought it was a mistake at first, I still haven't that figured out," said Clark. "It's a remarkable honor to be a part of the award. I'm happy to represent the University of Iowa, and I appreciate the opportunities I had there. I still can't believe my name is on the tight end award, it hasn't really sunk in. Being around all these people, it's been a special night."
Clark was one of more than 15 former Big Ten student-athletes who were on hand to present awards to the 2011 honorees.
While the Colts have struggled on the field in 2011, Clark has had some familiar company playing alongside him on the team. Former Hawkeyes Pat Angerer, A.J. Edds and Seth Olsen are also with Indianapolis this season. Angerer is in his second year and leads the team in tackles; Edds is seeing action on defense and special teams, and Olsen saw action on the offensive line before being put on the injured reserve list.
"Having the other Iowa guys on the squad has been great," said Clark. "Pat is having a phenomenal year; his improvement from last year to this year is remarkable. He has taken the leadership role on the defense and is making great plays each week.
"A.J. came in at middle of the season, did a great job on the practice squad. He's now active, making plays on special teams and defense. It's always great to have Hawkeyes in the locker room. It makes you feel at home."
Even though Clark left for the NFL prior to his senior season, he has earned his degree from the University of Iowa, and stays in contact with UI head coach Kirk Ferentz and others within the program.
"I try not to bother coach Ferentz during the season, he's a busy man," said Clark. "Every now and then, we'll exchange messages, just to let him know we are thinking about him. I continue to admire and appreciate everything he has done for the University of Iowa and the football program. He's a remarkable man. The things he continues to do with the football program, you couldn't ask for a better man than coach Ferentz."