PITTSBURGH — This year, Pitt will be looking to replace tight end Scott Orndoff who turned out to be an integral part of Pitt’s record setting offense last season. Orndoff was a valuable weapon in the red zone and was often a security blanket for quarterback Nate Peterman.
With the graduation of Orndoff and Jaymar Parrish, Chris Clark is the lone veteran tight end on the roster.
Clark is technically a veteran but will be new to the Panther roster after sitting out last year following a transferring from UCLA. Going into the 2017 season, a lot will be expected from Clark, who is a former 5-star recruit.
After practice today, Clark spoke with reporters about a variety of topics.
What are your thoughts on Pitt and why it’ll be a good fit for you?
“Ever since I got here last January, it’s been an unbelievable experience. The guys on the team have grown to be real good friends with me. Obviously, I had a past with Coach Narduzzi, I knew him really well when he was recruiting me at Michigan State so I felt real comfortable with him coming here. Obviously, sitting out last year and injuring my knee stunk but I was able to watch, learn and lift and get stronger so that was good.”
How’s your blocking coming?
“It’s getting better. Obviously, that’s what Coach Narduzzi says that’s the biggest thing with me. I can run and catch but my blocking needs to improve so each day I’m working on that with Coach Salem. I’m definitely seeing an improvement. I’m getting stronger, have good hands and good feet so it’s just about knowing the assignments and getting the little details and stuff.”
What’s the transition been like to be out here the last couple of days for the padded practices?
“It’s been really good, I’ve haven’t played football like this since my first game at UCLA which has been like two years ago so it’s been a little rough getting back into it. I feel like I’m getting back into it and getting better each day.”
What do you feel like you can bring to this offense?
“I feel like I can do a little bit of everything. I can catch the ball and will continue to get better as a blocker. I feel like I can be a complete tight end in both the pass and run game. Kind of do what Scott did last year, obviously Scott was an unbelievable player, I just hope to be something like him. Yeah, I feel like can definitely contribute a lot.”
As an older guy, do you feel a little sense of urgency to make an impact right away?
“Yeah, I’m just so anxious to play college football again. It’s been so long since I’ve actually competed in a meaningful game. I’m just super anxious to start playing because it stinks to have to sit on the sidelines.
What did you learn through this process, transferring, sitting out and then the injury?
“Yeah, my recruiting process, I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t embarrassing but I definitely wish that I could change couple things that happened throughout it. I was known as being a kid that was indecisive about everything. I’ve definitely grown up a lot since then and I’ve changed. I have a different mindset than I did a couple of years ago. I guess now looking back on it, it’s helped me so much as a person and a man. It has been crazy but I’m happy I finally found a place like Pitt to call home.”
Do you feel all of that will help you in terms of learning a new offense and getting adjusted to college football again?
“Yeah, last year, everyone will tell you, Coach Narduzzi and everyone, that I struggled a lot kind of learning the offense. I think most of it was because of my attitude and knowing that I couldn’t play. I was real lazy about certain things but now I’m just a totally different person. I’m picking up the plays, it’s a huge change and I’m feeling great.”
What helped you change your mindset?
“Honestly, everybody. My teammates, the coaches, Mr. Salem, the strength coaches have been big and staying on me and telling me be patient, be patient ever since last year when I was sitting out and struggling. They were just telling me your time will come. Obviously my time is here and I have to make the most of it.”