Deon Clarke Could Become a Star Next Season


Nov 1, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kendall Fuller (11) and linebacker Deon Clarke (40) and defensive end Dadi Nicolas (90) react in the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished off the 2014 season in a great way with Virginia Tech beating the Cincinnati Bearcats 33-17 to win the 2014 Military Bowl. The Hokies had a very young team, and will be returning 15 starters plus the returns of Luther Maddy and Brandon Facyson.

One player who had a strong but inconsistent season was Deon Clarke. Clarke had some big performances in games against Ohio State (10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup), Boston College (8 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack), and Cincinnati (11 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble). Clarke also had only 3 tackles four times against William and Mary, East Carolina, Western Michigan, and Wake Forest.

Clarke finished the season with 74 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 QB hurries, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup. These are some very good numbers for Clarke, but not as good as they could have been.

However, Clarke’s strong performance against Cincinnati will give him a lot of confidence going into the offseason. If Clarke can not only keep improving but also become consistent, the linebacker from Richmond, Virginia could breakout and become a star.

Deon Clarke is developing into a very good run defender that knows how to get a good read on where the holes will be, and then filling in the gaps to stop the running back. Clarke was one of the main reasons why Cincinnati was not very effective on the ground, and had to rely on their aerial attack.

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Clarke also has proven to be a very good blitzer that knows how to time some delayed blitzes right when a hole opens up to get a free rush on the quarterback. Clarke can work as an effective fifth pass rusher on some plays. Bud Foster even lines him up right next to one of the defensive ends on a few plays, and is willing to blitz Clarke and drop Dadi Nicolas into coverage.

Deon Clarke is solid in pass coverage, but that is definitely an area where he still has some work to do. Clarke also needs to probably add some weight to his 6’2” 213 pound weight. Clarke being around 225 to 230 pounds next fall would be a good sign that the former L.C. Bird linebacker has added more strength without losing his athleticism.

The biggest thing that Bud Foster and Cornell Brown will likely work on with Clarke is his leadership skills in the group of linebackers. With Chase Williams and Derek Di Nardo graduating, it will be up to Clarke to step up as the player leader of the linebackers next season, and push that unit to maximize their potential.

Chase Williams was also a very smart linebacker that could make some audibles on the field to adjust to the opposing offense while making sure his teammates understand the play fully. Clarke will need to make sure he has those skills mastered though I think Bud Foster will make sure he has the skills that Foster wants him to have.

Deon Clarke definitely has the talent, but he needs to become more consistent and fill Chase Williams’s leadership role. If he can do that, Clarke could definitely become a star next season.

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