Purdue continues to look for success in Volusia County and hosted two New Smyra Beach players this past weekend in highly touted wide receiver James Clark and football newcomer, defensive end Davarez Bryant.
For Clark, it was the first of what will be his full allotment of five official visits before he sits down and plugs in all of the pros and cons for the teams he will eventually consider his top five.
Right now, however, Clark, who is the No. 14 player in the Sentinel's 2013 Central Florida Super60 and No. 70 player in the Sentinel's 2013 Florida Top 100, is just taking it all in. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound highlight reel of a kick returner/receiver has 22 NCAA Division I-A scholarship offers, including Miami, Notre Dame, Auburn, West Virginia, USF and Purdue, which is the first one to get an official visit.
The Boilermakers can thank, in part, their current Volusia County players for drawing Clark's interest. Starting cornerback Ricardo Allen and wide receiver O.J. Ross are Daytona Beach Mainland products, while kick-return specialist Raheem Mostert is a fellow New Smyrna Beach product who played host to the visiting NSB duo. Purdue has Seminole County safety Taylor Richards of Lake Mary playing a big role, as well.
"It was great. I loved the school. It was a good visit. I got to go with my teammate Davarez," Clark said. "Overall, just the campus, the people, the coaching staff. It was great. The team took a hard loss but it was still a good group of guys who you could tell is capable of winning big games."
Wisconsin hung a 38-14 loss on the hosting Boilers, but that didn't sway Clark or Bryant's opinion of the visit. Clark said he and Bryant had a good time with their old friend Mostert.
"He was our host and we had nice time with him [Saturday] night," Clark said. "We basically just relaxed at his house. He got hurt in the game. He hurt his knee when he got horse-collared and he came down awkward on his knee."
Purdue head coach Danny Hope told the Muncie (Ind.) Star-Press on Sunday that Mostert could miss four weeks with a strained knee.
With his familiarity with some of the Purdue players, Clark said it helps his level of trust when considering what they have to say about the program.
"It's a group of guys who can at least tell me about the school and I can trust them," Clark said. "Another school, they might not have that ... someone I can lean on to tell me what's good and what's bad about the program.
"I guess I feel pretty good about it and I'm confident that if I choose to go to Purdue I have a good future ahead of me."
Clark said with Purdue being his first official visit, he will now use his trip as a barometer to measure how future hosts stack up. He has not planned any other visits to this point.
"I'll use it as a comparison to the other schools. I'm just trying to find out what is the best fit for me," Clark said. "They’re ready to get me up there and definitely wanted me.
"They said they have a place for me at they actually said they can move me around a lot in the offense as a play-maker. They said they would move me around however they could to get my hands on the ball and make a play."
So far this season, Clark has 26 catches for 560 yards (21.5-yard average) and three touchdowns.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun