Senior linebacker Damone Clark, the heart of soul of LSU’s defense during the 2021 season, announced Wednesday he’s played his final game for the Tigers and was moving onto the next phase of his playing career which will be in the NFL.
Clark, who led the Southeastern Conference in tackles and was second nationally, thanked the school for allowing him to become the first member of his family to obtain a college degree He also he was preparing to launch the next logical step in his career and would not play with the Tigers in the Jan. 4 TaxAct Texas Bowl in Houston.
“My time at LSU has been nothing short of amazing,” Clark wrote on his Twitter page. “I want to thank all of my coaches, especially (linebackers) coach (Brett) Baker, for believing in me and helping me to perfect my craft.”
Clark becomes the second key member of LSU’s defense that’s decided not to participate in postseason play, joining fifth-year senior defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. Clark’s already accepted an invitation, like teammate Ed Ingram, to play in the Senior Bowl.
The loss of Clark, who wore the coveted No. 18 jersey the past two seasons, will create an immeasurable void in LSU’s defense which had experienced a resurgence of sorts over the last four games of the regular season.
However, Clark played at an elite level the entire season, as evidenced by his selection to the All-SEC first team for the first time.
His 135 tackles rank fourth-best in school history where former standout Bradie James’s 154 top the list. He also became the third LSU player in the last four years to lead the league in tackles.
Clark, a graduate of Baton Rouge’s Southern Lab High School, ignited his red-hot season with 14 tackles in LSU’s season-opening loss at UCLA and didn’t stop. He wound up with eight games of 10+ tackles that was highlighted by a career-high 19 in a Oct. 23 loss at Ole Miss.
His final act in Tiger Stadium was a memorable one in his team’s 27-24 upset of No. 14 Texas A&M, Clark had back-to-back quarterback sacks to end the game.
He compiled 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles with an interception and fumble recovery.
Clark was a finalist for the prestigious Butkus Award. He was also named a second team All-American by Walter Camp and The Sporting News.
Clark, who played a 50 career games, wound up with 249 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
“To my teammates, thank you for pushing me to be the best that I can be, and forming a brotherhood that will last forever,” Clark said. “I hope I was able to show you what a true leader is, on and off the field. The lifelong memories we have created is something that I will cherish forever; strive for greatness and be the best men you can be. As I move forward, I hope to have made a positive impact on my teammates and everyone I crossed paths with because you all have impacted me. I look forward to the next chapter.”