Douglass defensive end Deondre Clark set some high goals for himself and his team for the 2012 football season.
Thirty sacks and a state championship.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior was on pace for the first goal, had the team reached the second, but instead, the Trojans suffered a disappointing first-round playoff exit.
Clark had to settle for a school-record 22 sacks, 99 tackles and 20 quarterback hurries, while vaulting himself up the list of the state's most sought-after junior prospects.
The Oklahoman's Little All-City Defensive Player of the Year, Clark has the ideal combination of size, speed and power to be a dangerous pass rusher and run stopper.
“He's ultra-talented, and we try to find different ways to challenge him to get him to maximize his promise,” Douglass coach Willis Alexander said. “He hasn't reached where he's capable of being. With our coaching staff, we keep him grounded. We continue to challenge him every day.
“We let him know, if you're a top 50 guy in the nation, you have to play like it all the time. You can't play like it sometimes. Those are things he has to understand, and he's embraced it and welcomed it.”
Clark was rated No. 14 in Tom Lemming's Top 100 list for the 2014 class, which debuted this week, and he'll try to earn an All-America spot for next year when he competes in the Under Armour combine in January.
Clark already has scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, LSU, Notre Dame, Missouri, Baylor and nearly a dozen more.
While the recruiting process will only grow more intense, Clark learned from watching older brother Stephen go through it in basketball, before eventually signing with Oklahoma State.
“The biggest thing I learned was to stick with the team that stays loyal to you the whole time,” he said. “I'll wait until the time is right to commit.”
With his senior season still ahead, Deondre Clark will work to refine his craft, which includes closely watching the nuances of the NFL's best pass rushers' moves.
And he'll get the chance to keep showing his offensive skills as well. This year, he rushed for 275 yards on 48 carries from the fullback position, and added 160 yards on nine receptions with seven total touchdowns, all while opening holes for tailbacks Chris High and Chavez Wyatt.
“We were helping teams out a lot last year by having Deondre at tight end, not giving him the football,” Alexander said. “He's a threat when we give it to him, so we put him in a position to utilize that talent.”
Clark played as a freshman in 2010, when the Trojans were state champions, and he wants to feel that joy again, especially after this year's frustrating end.
“We feel like we let ourselves down at Douglass,” he said. “But there were a lot of positives. We were a group of young guys that tried to come together as one. We didn't make the plays, got put out early.
“But we learned from everything, and hopefully all the young guys can come back next year and we can win a title.”