Last season, the Hokies knew they had a talented defensive back in Chuck Clark, but wanted to find a way to get him on the field with Detrick Bonner entrenched as the starting free safety. Bud Foster made the decision to move Clark from his natural free safety position to cornerback, and Clark did well with 73 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 11 pass deflections.
However, it was still clear that Clark’s best position was free safety, and the Hokies moved him back to his natural spot at free safety. In three games, Clark has thrived at the position and has been an upgrade over Bonner.
In three games, Clark has had 27 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass deflection, and a 20-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Purdue. Clark’s lowest tackle game came against Purdue with only five tackles, but the Hokies’ defense was barely on the field in that game.
Chuck Clark is a natural fit in the free safety as someone that is very solid in coverage while also being able to being a presence in containing the running game. Clark gives Foster a safety that he can use in zone or man coverage and not have concerns, unlike Bonner who struggled when he was used in man coverage.
Clark has proven to be an effective player in the box that has helped stopped the Hokies from giving up some big runs. Clark is a solid open-field tackler, but also knows how to play with a high motor and great aggression to take risks and make big plays to contain running backs.
Clark brings a veteran presence in the middle of the Virginia Tech defense to help organize the secondary. Clark’s experience has become even more valuable with Andrew Motuapuaka still out for a few weeks, and Sean Huelskamp not having much experience.
Clark is already looking like someone that could have 100 tackles for the Hokies, which would be very impressive in his first year as the starter at free safety. Clark is playing like one of the top safeties in the ACC, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Clark was named to one of the three All-ACC teams at the end of the season.
Clark has probably been the best player in the secondary for the Hokies so far with Kendall Fuller not 100% just yet, and Brandon Facyson still not having 100% confidence. Fuller will reclaim that title as the best defensive back once he returns to full health, but the free safety has taken his game to the next level.
Chuck Clark has a bright future ahead, and is truly breaking out now that he is at his natural free safety position.