NY Jets: 3 things to know about new OL Cameron Clark
By Justin Fried
NY Jets’ fourth-round pick Cameron Clark is interesting both on and off the field.
The NY Jets‘ 2020 NFL Draft may have been headlined by first-round pick Mekhi Becton, but the former Louisville star wasn’t the only offensive lineman the team came away with.
Fourth-round pick Cameron Clark could have just as integral of a role on the offense in the near future, but he’s been pretty overshadowed to this point.
But can you blame him? After all, it’s pretty easy to be overshadowed by the 6-foot-7, 364-behemoth that the Jets drafted in the first round. Becton overshadows many prospects — both literally and figuratively.
Still, Clark is a player that Jets fans should familiarize themselves with before long. Not only is the Charlotte product a mean road-grader, but his versatility to play either tackle or guard could lead him to a spot in the starting lineup.
And that promotion could come as soon as next year.
But as is standard with this article series, we all know about the player that Clark is on the field. His strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between has been discussed at length.
But what about Clark off the field? What about his personality, his story, and his background makes him so interesting?
Let’s take a look at the man behind the No. 129 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 3. He appeared in the most games in school history
3. NY Jets’ offensive lineman Cameron Clark appeared in the most games in school history
The Charlotte 49ers football program is an extremely new program having not even been around for a full decade yet. They kicked off their first season back in 2013 and officially moved up to the FBS level two years later.
As you could imagine, they haven’t exactly produced many NFL players. In fact, Clark was only the fourth Charlotte alumni to be drafted after Larry Ogunjobi in 2017, Nate Davis in 2019, and teammate Alex Highsmith in 2020.
But Clark has the edge on all of them in terms of games played. Actually, he has the edge on every player in school history.
Clark played in a school-record 49 games over his four-year career at Charlotte starting 35 games in total including his final 31. All 49 of those games came at left tackle, but the 22-year-old also has experience playing guard with the scout team in practice.
Given his significant contributions to the program, Clark graduated as one of the most accomplished players in school history. Which for a program that hasn’t even been around for a full decade doesn’t seem too incredible, but it’s a worthy honor nonetheless.
Consider the fact that Charlotte has only played 61 games in program history That means that Clark has played in a whopping 80 percent of all games that his school has played.
That’s quite the remarkable feat and it speaks to the legacy he leaves behind at his alma mater.
Next: 2. He was his team's Offensive MVP in 2017
2. NY Jets’ offensive lineman Cameron Clark was named Offensive MVP in 2017
Clark’s legacy doesn’t only stop at the number of games he played, however. His play on the gridiron and leadership off of it helped him earn an unlikely award back in 2017.
Clark was named the team’s Offensive MVP for the 2017 season — a rare feat for an offensive lineman. Of course, this was partially helped by the 49ers’ 1-11 finish and 14 points-per-game average, but that shouldn’t take away from the honor.
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Rarely do offensive linemen receive the recognition they deserve — especially in the end-of-the-year award ceremony. But Clark was the best offensive player on the team that year and he was honored as such.
This is even more remarkable if you consider the fact that he didn’t even begin the year as a starter. Clark would play in all 12 games only making eight starts (all at left tackle) starting the final six games of the year.
But despite the spot-start nature of his playing time, he still performed well enough to be named the team’s Offensive MVP.
That would be a sign of things to come as the following year he was named team captain and would go on to start the final 25 games of his college career. A first-team All-C-USA selection in 2019, he would help lead Charlotte to its first bowl game in school history.
Clark leaves behind a lasting legacy at Charlotte and it’s for more than just his on-field excellence.
Next: 1. He's already friends with Mekhi Becton
1. NY Jets’ offensive lineman Cameron Clark is already friends with Mekhi Becton
The Jets have struggled with chemistry on the offensive line over the last couple of seasons. And we saw this problem come to a head last year in particular.
But Jets fans should rest easy knowing that their two drafted offensive linemen already have some degree of chemistry with each other. That’s because they actually developed quite the bond in the pre-draft process.
Clark and Becton worked out together in the months leading up to the draft with renowned offensive line coach Duane “Duke” Manyweather. As Clark detailed, they “just kinda hit it off from the jump.”
“It was a group of us like five of us that was real close when we were training and me and Mekhi were one of those guys. So we were always just joking, playing around together. We worked hard. I said we know when to work, we know when to play, but we always got our work in.
He’s just a fun, happy person. The way he is off the field, he’s the opposite on the field. He’s a big kid off the field.”
Having already established a relationship with Becton, Clark has detailed how it helps with the whole process of getting acquainted with a new team — especially since all meetings have solely taken place via video conferences.
“It’s just crazy seeing someone and actually knowing someone in the meetings, so I feel like that’s going to pay dividends especially once we get up to New York and we can help each other out.”
It’s easy to envision a future left side of the offensive line featuring Becton and Clark starting at left tackle and left guard respectively. Their similar road-grader mentalities mesh and it’s clear that they’ve already established some chemistry before ever suiting up next to one another.
The future of the Jets offensive line appears to be in good hands with these two.