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April 1, 2013Early in the second quarter, defensive end Frank Clark came off the edge unblocked, bearing down on an unsuspecting Braxton Miller. He hit the Ohio State quarterback with everything he had, but somehow Miller held onto the football.
"I guess I have to come a little bit harder next time," Clark said following a spring-practice session late last week.
"Braxton is a good player, a great player, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and I look forward to playing him again."
Michigan and its fans are hopeful the Clark that showed up for The Game and for most of November becomes a regular fixture on Saturdays this fall; Clark had a sack among two tackles for loss against the Buckeyes and finished four November contests with two sacks and six TFL.
"My goal is to help my team out as much as possible, in whatever position, whatever aspect, whatever my coach needs me to do," said Clark.
What the Wolverines need is for the 6-2, 277-pound Clark to become a menace off the edge this season, providing U-M that legitimate pass rusher it has lacked along its defensive line since Brandon Graham departed in 2009.
The Maize and Blue need an even greater contribution from Clark now that redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan is slated to miss most or all of the season with an ACL injury.
Even before the Ryan injury, Clark was working his way into the best shape of his life, gaining 15 pounds over last year's playing weight, as he tips the scales now at 6-2, 277, and honing his game on the practice field and in film study.
"Frank had a great winter in the weight room," head coach Brady Hoke said.
Don't expect Clark to stay that big, though.
"I gained weight to see if I can play that weight, to see how mobile I can be and how that would affect me on the field -- my speed," Clark said. "I plan on dropping down in the future though so that I can play lighter."
Clark said he's a touch slower than he was as a rookie and wants to regain that explosion off the snap so he'll likely drop 5-10 pounds this summer, but he's prepared to play heavier.
"I've learned how to adjust, learned how to use my body," the Cleveland native said. "I had to get stronger, had to get bigger. We're playing big-time football here."
Michigan will host a strength and conditioning clinic at Schembechler Hall April 20. The clinic costs $50 per participant, and registration is open until April 13. A complete schedule with speakers is available on the site. Participants may register at www.michigancoachesclinic.com/strength.html.
Michigan football director of strength and conditioning Aaron Wellman will lead the clinic, which will also feature nutritionists and strength coaches from the high school, collegiate and professional level. Eric Ciano, the strength coach of the Buffalo Bills, will close out the event.
"We're excited about the clinic and for the opportunity to gather as coaches, share ideas and develop ourselves as professionals to ultimately serve our student-athletes," said Wellman.