This offseason, App State football welcomed back an All-American alum in Shawn Clark, who joined the coaching staff as a co-offensive coordinator in charge of the offensive line and running game.
Clark, who played as an offensive guard for the Mountaineers from 1994 until 1998, held coaching positions at Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and Kent State before returning to his alma mater.
Though it is only his first year on the staff, Clark said that he and the university have a standard that his offensive line must live up to.
“We want to make sure we remind those guys of how we want to play as a unit and that anything less than our best is unacceptable,” Clark said.
Players have noticed that while there are differences between Clark and previous coach Dwayne Ledford, now an assistant coach at N.C. State, they both have similar philosophies concerning the running game.
“He wants us to get after it every play, finish people down the field and hustle to the ball,” junior offensive lineman Beau Nunn said. “Pass blocking-wise, he wants us to be technically sound and to keep everybody off Taylor [Lamb].”
Clark said that he tries to bring his own flavor to his coaching styles, but many coaching techniques are similar when it comes to the offensive front.
“It’s just how you put a different twist to it,” Clark said. “We’ve kind of picked up where we left off and tried to improve from there.”
Senior offensive lineman Parker Collins said that one change he has noticed is the level of excitement Clark has brought with him.
“I think he’s going to be a really good fit for us,” Collins said. “A lot of energy every day and excitement to learn and be a part of the offense.”
While Clark knows it’s all but impossible to be perfect, he expects excellence out of his group, since the team depends heavily on the running game. This year’s running attack will feature senior running back Marcus Cox as he attempts to break the team record for career rushing yards.
“We’re going to be excellent in what we do to make sure we run the football,” Clark said. “That’s what we hang our hat on. If we do our job up front, that record is obtainable, but for our offense to be successful, we have to run the football. We’ll let the records take care of themselves as long as we do our job.”
With an experienced group of linemen and a number of skilled position players, there are high hopes from fans, coaches and players for the upcoming season. But Clark wanted to make sure that his players knew what mattered outside of football as well.
Clark not only brought football knowledge and experience with him, but he brought a sense of family. Clark invited players to meet his wife and kids and get to know him as a person to teach them about the important aspects of life off the field.
“We’re trying to build men here,” Clark said. “We want to make sure these players see us around our wives and kids and know we are normal. That we’re good husbands first and are good fathers to our kids. This is a lifelong experience for these guys, and part of that is to come back and be great citizens in the community and give back.”
Story by: Colin Tate, Sports Reporter