Shawn Clark

Shawn Clark Football Player Turned Rugby Pro

In November, former Monmouth tight end, Shawn Clark, became a two-sport pro athlete after becoming one of the newest additions to the pro rugby team, the Colorado Raptors.

The Potsdam, New York native has played sports his whole life but says, “Football has always been my one love.”

Clark sees his time at Monmouth as the best time of his life. “Monmouth Football, the whole program, just the atmosphere helped me really just find myself as a person,” said Clark.

During his college career, Clark had a knee surgery, dislocated his shoulder, and played six weeks with a torn labrum and torn bicep. With the help of his support system at Monmouth, Clark derived his motivation from his hometown, and ended up earning First team All-Big South Honors, led All-Big South tight ends with 18 receptions for 254 yards and four touchdowns, and earned an Eastern Conference Athletic Conference (ECAC) First Team Selection.

“There’s very few people who get the opportunities that I have from my area and it means so much to have that kind of support around you, plus at Monmouth University in general, my support system was amazing.”

Clark reminisced on Monmouth’s Big South Championship win against Campbell University saying, “We just beat them down and holding that trophy for the first time was the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Becoming a National Football League (NFL) player has been Clark’s main goal his entire life. Following his last season, the decorated tight end did not receive any offers from NFL teams following the huge impact COVID has had on small school player’s opportunities. Clark headed down to North Carolina and began training with The Perfect Athlete Training and received invitations to work out with the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills. “Understanding that I wasn’t the only one going through it kind of kept me pushing for the opportunity I had in Indy and Buffalo as well.”

Clark then went to play for the Blues in the developmental camp, the Spring League that consists of NFL coaches and future NFL players. He spoke on the camp saying, “It’s such a good experience to be around and it shows yourself, that you can play with the best of them.”

While still playing with the Blues, Clark received a phone call with an offer to play professional rugby for the Colorado Raptors who are leaving Major League Rugby and looking to develop American athletes to try to make the World Cup team. COVID has helped Clark realize how short and precious life is. “Opportunities are so limited in life and I’m just trying to make the most of every opportunity I can get,” said Clark. “Why not take this chance, go and continue to be an athlete?”

With no prior rugby experience, Clark flew out to Denver, signed a contract, and is excited to represent the U.S. in the Rugby World Cup. He will also still be able to work out for NFL teams in the meantime.

Clark is thankful for “my man, Coach Jeff Gallo” and the athletic advisors, Tom Bieber and the entire staff saying, “They worked relentlessly with me for five years to make sure I would succeed.”

“Monmouth football and the university both taught me how to make the most of every opportunity, and I am most grateful for that,” said Clark.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics