In our third installment in this series we were able to catch up with former Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle Jeremy Clark. To get the full transcript of our interview, click here:
The city of Mobile and the gulf coast in particular have been very good to The University of Alabama football program in recent years and in year’s past. Just a few miles south of the port city is a small town called Daphne which for years has bred some of the state’s most talented players, with the most recent being former Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. The town itself is filled with an overall mixture of middle-class to affluent members of society. However, a small segment off the beaten path is a neighborhood called Daphmont which consists of blue-collar workers proud of their humble beginnings.
This is where Clark grew up.
There in that small neighborhood, Clark was blessed to have a strong family unit which consisted of his mother, step-father, and three younger sisters who made it a point to see him succeed and do well. Clark not only did that, but he managed to make a name for himself on the field at Daphne High School where he helped lead his team to a state championship in 2001.
Clark reflects about that year when speaking about his football days because of the sacrifice many on that team made year’s prior. That 2001 team who gave so much joy to the community by winning the state title may not remember a group of young 8th grade boys who went an entire year only winning one game. Those young men stuck together through high school and accomplished something many only dream about in their playing days.
The significance of that moment is what inspired Clark to stay at the University of Alabama during one of the program’s most troubling times. After redshirting his first year, Clark received some news along with his teammates that Coach Dennis Franchione decided to leave for greener pastures (or so he thought) to Texas A & M University. Unbeknownst to Clark and the rest of the team, they were left without a coach and a sense of direction. Shortly after this, newly hired Mike Price was fired as quickly as he was hired after a scandal broke out and once again members of the team were stunned and wondered where their future was heading. According to Clark, “It was a really weird time on campus with things… it was just strange.”
Despite what was going on and the uncertainty that existed, not once did Clark think about jumping ship just because things got tough. He already experienced adversity before in football by going through an embarrassing one-win season just a few years prior. The success he had by sticking it out and battling through it inspired him to do the same at Alabama. “I thought about all of the guys that came in with me and it wasn’t even a thought of wanting to transfer and go somewhere else.”
The 2005 season was seen as a testament to his 2001 state championship team. The feeling and the belief that something special could happen because of a group of guys sticking together through an act of selflessness in order to accomplish a greater goal. The belief was there, and if not for a couple misfortunes that year, Clark could have gotten the same feeling he did by winning another championship.
However, all was not lost. That year, the Tide finished 10-2 and a victory in the Cotton Bowl over the high-powered Texas Tech offense. To accomplish something that big considering where they were just a couple of years ago was just as satisfying to Clark — even if they came up a tad bit short.
The boy from Daphne was able to grow up into a man in Tuscaloosa and is grateful to his coaches and his teammates whom he refers to as his brothers. After a few years in the NFL, Clark officially retired and is now spending his time working with Non-Profit organizations in the Dallas area. Clark is another reminder that no matter where you come from, with a mindset of accomplishing goals, one can achieve them — and that he did.