Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Te Clark's Leave Likely to Turn into a Departure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Te Clark's Leave Likely to Turn into a Departure

Article excerpt

After seemingly finding his place at Pitt - at long last - Panthers tight end Chris Clark has taken a leave of absence from the program, coach Pat Narduzzi said Tuesday after spring practice. He didn't say the door is closed for Clark, but his comments seemed to indicate the returning starter won't be back.

"Chris has stepped away right now, really for personal reasons," Narduzzi said. "In talking with his mom and dad, just, personally, there's some things he's trying to deal with that he needed to step away right now. So he's away from the program, and our best wishes are for Chris and his family to make it through these tough times.

Narduzzi added that Clark returning is "something that we haven't really discussed; right now, his well-being is the most important thing."

Clark, a redshirt junior tight end who began his college career at UCLA and sat out a year before becoming eligible to play for Pitt, appeared in every game last season and started eight. He caught 16 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown while sharing time with Matt Flanagan, who was brought in as a graduate transfer from Rutgers last offseason.

As by far the most experienced option at his position, Clark appeared to be working with Pitt's first-team offense when spring camp began two weeks ago. But there was no sign of him at the media viewing window at the start drills last Tuesday and Thursday, and redshirt freshman Charles Reeves took his place with the starting unit again to kick off workouts this week.

Before arriving in 2015 at UCLA, where he played in one game before leaving the team, Clark had been committed to Michigan and North Carolina during his time as a four-star prospect out of high school. In between the West Coast and Pitt, he was headed to Syracuse before that fell through. Narduzzi was happy to add Clark to the mix instead, and throughout last year he spoke positively about Clark's improvement on and off the field as he worked his way back from multiple knee injuries.

"Chris grows every day," Narduzzi said last October. "He's always a work in progress, whether it's academically, going to study table, paying attention, keeping his chin up, the whole deal. …

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