A lifetime in the making, Santana Clark’s moment finally arrived Monday when the Frederica Academy football player put pen to paper to sign to play at Jacksonville University next fall.
“It feels good. I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life,” Clark said. “It’s finally here.”
Clark played out of position on the Frederica defense as a linebacker, but he will play defensive back for the Dolphins. Frederica football coach Brandon Derrick said Clark’s talent will give him a chance to make the field as a freshman.
“He would have played corner for us if we had somebody big enough to play linebacker,” Derrick said. “I think they’re going to get a great corner. He’s got great feet, great technique.”
Clark said he’s comfortable in whatever defensive back role — cornerback, safety, nickelback — Jacksonville has in mind.
“That’s what I’ve been playing all my life, ever since I was seven,” said Clark on playing defensive back.
Clark’s versatility went beyond the defense. While he made 42 tackles and tallied a sack and an interception for the Knights, he was also the team’s second leading receiver with 16 catches for 243 yards and two scores.
“He was a constant student of the game,” Derrick said. “We had to play him at multiple positions on offense and defense at times, and he adjusted tremendously.”
Clark said playing so many positions has helped his football IQ.
“It’s taught me to be more versatile on the field and be more aware of how other people’s positions will affect me on that down,” Clark said. “It just gives me a better feel for the game.”
As big an impact as Clark had on the field, Derrick said Clark was also a great leader in the locker room and outside the school.
“The thing that sticks out to me the most about Santana was his work ethic,” Derrick said. “I never had to find Santana and say ‘Let’s get this grade up.’ From day one, he was driven to get out of here and go on to bigger and better things.”
Aside from football reasons, Clark chose Jacksonville because of the university’s aviation program. It also didn’t hurt that he will get to play close to home where his family will be able to see him play.
“I love that I’m going to be so close to home,” Clark said.
Whatever happens on the field, Derrick knows that Clark will have an impact wherever his life takes him.
“He’s going to be a great asset to any community after he graduates,” Derrick said.