South Carolina added another piece to its stellar 2015 recruiting class Thursday night when Virginia offensive lineman Austin Clark picked the Gamecocks over Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Ohio State.
Clark has primarily played tackle during his high school days and could have a chance to compete for one of the spots next season. Left tackle Corey Robinson will be gone in 2015 and his current backup, Mason Zandi, will be trying to lock down the starting job. If Clark is versatile enough to move around the line, he might also get a look at left guard, where A.J. Cann will be departing. Brock Stadnik and Bryce King are expected to compete for the position next year, but Clark could also work his way into the mix.
Another likely scenario is that, with the Gamecocks possibly looking at an offensive line comprised of a sophomore, three juniors and a senior in 2015, Clark could get redshirted in 2015. Even though he is graduating in December and will be enrolling next January, it is very unusual for a freshman to walk into an SEC program and start in the trenches. The Gamecocks have had a habit in recent seasons of redshirting the majority of their freshmen and Shawn Elliott would probably like to get Clark in a weight room to beef up his 297-pound frame.
Both of South Carolina’s starting tackles will be gone after 2015, so there is no reason to think that Clark won’t be in the mix for one of those jobs in the future. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, they have been stockpiling offensive linemen since early in Steve Spurrier’s tenure and have plenty to choose from. This strategy has paid off, as South Carolina’s 2014 line is widely considered its best unit in a over a decade.
Austin Clark’s commitment brings another talented lineman to Columbia and while he may not see the field immediately, Gamecock fans should definitely expect to see the Virginia native battling for playing time soon.