Change of heart leading Clark to Walters State C.C.

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY -- Recent Tennessee High graduate Boodle Clark was one of the most prized recruits to ever sign with the East Tennessee State baseball program. But with Clark eyeing an even bigger prize, he has decided to go elsewhere.
   Clark will not play at ETSU, but will instead be playing his college baseball at Walters State Community College.
   The main reason for Clark changing his mind is because a player is eligible for the Major League Baseball Draft every year they play at a junior college. At a four-year school, a player can't be drafted until after his junior season.
   With this weighing heavily in Clark's mind, he has decided to take another route.
   "My dad and I started thinking about what was going to be best for me in regards to my life long dream," Clark said. "At Walters State, there's an opportunity to be drafted each year. I just thought it would be better for me."
   After making the decision, Clark had to break the news to ETSU head baseball coach Tony Skole.
   Clark thought Skole took it well.
   "They were supportive," Clark said about the ETSU coaching staff. "This was just best for me."
   Clark was a dominant force in local high school baseball this season. Clark hit .538 with eight home runs and 29 RBI's. Clark struck out only seven times, and was a stellar shortstop.
   Clark also had success on the mound. He went 6-6 with a 2.45 E.R.A, and allowed only 53 hits while striking out 122 batters in 74 1/3 innings of work.
   Clark wants to get drafted, and he sees the junior college route as the best way. Clark thinks that it will just be a better situation for him.
   "I want to go down there and get my feet wet," Clark said. "I'll be going up against better players, and I'll be seeing better pitchers. Plus, I'll be eligible for the draft next year if that's what I really want."
   In addition to being a great athlete, Clark is an excellent student. Clark was recently honored by the Northeast Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame committee as the area's Male Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year.
   Clark made it clear that he is still going to get an education.
   "I can work on that, too at Walters State," Clark said.
   Another factor that played in Clark's decision is the fact that it is very tough for players that start professionally at age 21 or 22 to make it to the majors.
   "We thought about that," Clark said. "Me going to a junior college opens things up. After your junior year of college, you're close to the age where they don't want to take you. Here, you can be looked at every year. It played a factor."
   Clark's eyes really began to open after he wasn't drafted in June. Clark didn't know if he would have been drafted had he not signed with ETSU, but that's when he started having these second thoughts.
   Clark wasn't overly upset with the snub by Major League scouts.
   "I didn't know for sure if I would get drafted," Clark said. "If it happened it happened."
   Clark wants ETSU fans to not be upset with the decision, and to understand that this is probably the best thing he could do.
   "I was looking forward to coming down there, but we started thinking what was best for me. This is going to help me out more. It will give me more options."