The Bear Raid is growing incrementally, with another commitment out of San Diego. Derrick Clark is a running back out of Mission Bay, a three star prospect who has played quarterback, running back, return man, and defensive back. Clark will join Khalfani Muhammad, Vic Enwere, Trey Watson, and Lonny Powell as the Bear Raid RBs after Daniel Lasco graduates next year.
The running back role in the Bear Raid needs to be filled by a player with a few specific skills. The ideal RB has great vision, considering the amount of zone read plays that Cal runs. The zone play requires the back to read the blockers and look for cutback lanes, and it is the base option in a lot of plays. The second skill is pass catching out of the backfield. In the game against Oregon, Lasco caught 8 passes for 101 yards, slashing up the Oregon defense on multiple occasions. This lends another element to the offense that opens up the intermediate and deep passing game. The last skill is pass protection, because we don't want our Bear Raid commander to die. If a running back recruit has those three qualities, he'll do fine. Let's see how Clark meets this criteria.
- First of all, this kid has a 3.7 GPA. He can handle the academic rigors that Berkeley will throw in his path. That continues an excellent trend that Coach Dykes has started it his recruiting processes. Academics are selling the school more than they used to, and after the APR debacle, every kid needs to be held to higher standard. Clark is another piece of that higher standard.
- The tape starts with a punt return, showcasing Clark's ability to quickly read and react. He picks a gap and speeds through it in a Desean-esque fashion. Clark will becoming in around when Trevor Davis leaves, which gives the Bears another return man, one that can return punts in particular. There hasn't been a truly dynamic return man at Cal since Desean made a Colquitt back down. Clark could ostensibly fill that role. A punt return around the 3:00 mark adds to this point, where Clark makes a man miss with a spin move at full speed. Great agility is needed to make that move.
- There's a play in his tape, starting at 1:31, that is evocative of Shane Vereen's TD on a sweep against Nevada in 2010. Lots of cutbacks, lots of agility, and a great ability to make people miss. His vision is solid, as he sees open space directly to his right, and he is agile enough to make that move without getting caught. Another example of this is during a QB sweep at 2:42. He cuts back at an unseen angle to gain another bunch of yards
- A good portion of Clark's tape is at the QB position. He plays it much like I played Madden 2004 with the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick. There are a lot of QB sweeps involved, where he follows his lead blocker and makes his reads based off the direction the defender tries to take. Clark has an exceptional burst when he attempts to get to the outside edge. The 4.4 speed takes over once he gets to the edge, and he makes a lot of defenses looks slow. He also carries the ball in the outside arm
- Look at the run at 4:42. Clark reads on the QB run, sees the hole up the middle, and hits it fast. His cutback ability reminds me of the tape that Isi Sofele had coming out of high school. That being said, Isi was 3 inches and 30 pounds smaller, so Clark has similar agility while having the size to break tackles. He's what would happen if Sofele and CJ Anderson did the fusion dance from Dragonball Z, with a bit more speed.
- Since he played a lot of quarterback, Clark's pass protection abilities were not shown. Considering that Tony Franklin coaches the running backs, the importance and techniques of pass protection will be thoroughly ingrained in Clark and the others. His receiving skills weren't shown in the tape, but if he can make the catches required to return punts (which are a lot more stressful than regular passes), he will be solid receiving out of the backfield.
- This is a solid pickup for the Bear Raid. Clark is a very explosive athlete that can contribute in the return game early. He's got some speed on the outside edge, which can be used in running some outside zone runs in the future. His vision is very well developed for the level that he's at, and he will be another weapon from the RB spot for the Bears.