Outside the Centre of attention: Adam Clark dedicates signing day to friends and family for support

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By Elliott Pratt

CRESTWOOD — Even on a day that was all about Adam Clark, he didn’t want the spotlight to shine on him.

Instead, he wanted this day to honor those who made his special moment possible.

Clark signed a letter of intent to play football at Centre College last Thursday after a senior season where he was an all-around skill player for the Dragons on both sides of the ball.

“The best part of a day like this is to see everyone who has helped you along the way,” Clark said. “To thank them and honor them and say, ‘this is you, it’s not just me.’”

It wasn’t too long ago when it seemed academics, not football, was the best way to secure his college education.

Now he can enjoy both.

Clark scored a 35 on the ACT and ranks near the top of his graduating class with an unweighted GPA of 3.9. Clark had large scholarship offers from the University of Miami in Florida and could have attended the University of Louisville on a full academic scholarship.

The opportunity to play college football at a school like Centre was one that arrived late, but was too good to pass up.

“It was really unexpected,” Clark said. “I put so much effort in my studies and academics always came first to me. I had always thought about playing college football but when it came around to it I wasn’t making highlight videos or actively trying to get recruited…When (Centre defensive coordinator Carter) Conley came to school and talked to me, it kind of fit. Outside of football, the academic scholarship they gave me became the best offer. It was just an added bonus for me to play.”

It has been football that helped Clark through everything life tossed his way the past five years.

Just five days before he started his eighth grade year, his parents separated before legally getting a divorce a year later. His mother, Traci Jones, took Adam and his little brother and moved into a small apartment while she worked two jobs to help make ends meet.

No furniture meant sleeping on the floor for an extended time. Working two jobs while going to school to earn her degree meant Adam had to mature faster than most teenagers.

“He would never tell you anything bothered him,” Jones said.

During his sophomore year, Traci married Kevin Jones and the new family moved into a house in Magnolia Place in Crestwood. During the summer as football season was starting up, Adam was home alone on a Sunday night when the house caught fire. Adam left the house unharmed and all he could save was what clothes he could fit into a small suitcase.

He showed up to football practice less than 24 hours later.

“It wasn’t as hard for me as it was probably for my mom, step-dad and little brother because I was right in the middle of football season,” Clark said. “I didn’t have time to dwell on where are we going tonight or anything like that because I was so busy. I think for a good month and a half I stayed with teammates at each person’s house. I don’t think without my football team I would have come around like I did with my family situation and the house.”

Life was brought back to normal off the field when the family built the same house on the same foundation less than a year later.

Circumstances that made Adam stronger off the field translated to toughness on the field. He overcame a broken ankle his freshman year and played most of his senior season with a torn ligament in his thumb. Clark rushed for 327 yards and five touchdowns while catching 12 passes for 235 yards and two scores. He had three interceptions and 58 total tackles to help South reach an 8-3 record.

“His whole career has been about bouncing back,” South Oldham football coach Jamie Reed said. “He’s dealt with different injuries and he’s dealt with different personal things in his life…He’s overall one of those kids who is an All-American kid.”

Of course, Adam isn’t taking credit for any of what he’s accomplished.

“I think it’s a lot more special for other people in my life,” Clark said. “It means a lot to me and it’s special but today for me is a time for me to honor and thank my parents and friends who have supported me to get to where I am. I know it’s not just me by myself. I couldn’t have done this.”