Temple Commitment Peter Clark hopes to open the door for international athletes

When South London native Peter Clark joined the NFL academy at the age of 16, he dreamed of traveling to America to get a free education and play soccer.

So even on the days when he didn’t want to get up at five in the morning for the hour-long commute, Clark knew his trip to the academy was worth it. The NFL Academy, a platform that helps international athletes learn soccer, could be his ticket to playing at a higher level.

“If it wasn’t for the NFL academy, I wouldn’t have gone to college,” Clark, an 18-year-old committed to Temple, said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do. Because of my background and where I come from, I didn’t go to university. No one in my family left, I would be the first.”

Clark, who is 6-foot-6, 248 pounds, fulfilled his dream when Temple coach Stan Drayton added him to the 2023 class. The academy helped Clark Evolve into a three star possibilityBut his commitment to football has also come with challenges. Clark needed to learn to balance that daily grind with his work schedule and family time.

Clarke was introduced to football when he was 12 years old when he played five in five games in middle school. He didn’t know much about sports and used what he knew about football, rugby and basketball to help him keep up with the game.

Clark’s transition came easy because he was able to catch up and run the roads. Although he only played for fun at first, Clarke stood out. One teacher remarked, “You are kind of a footballer by nature, why not try to elevate him to the club level?”

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He did just that. Clark joined the London Warriors, a program that competes with other clubs in the London area. With a sturdy frame, size and speed, Clark was navigating between safety and the future.

Tony Allen, Clark’s coach with the Warriors, served as the head coach for the NFL Academy. Allen told Clarke that he could play at the university level with proper training and suggested he take advantage of the academy.

“[Allen’s] He was an influential figure my whole life,” Clark said. “He has always guided me through my journey. It was a big part of what I did. Without Coach Tony, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today. It changed my life.”

When Clark was invited to the Academy in 2020, it was the program’s second year in existence. Clark soon realized that he needed to be dedicated to watching movies and lifting weights to compete with the more experienced guys.

“To go anywhere with football above high school, I needed to be in the academy,” Clark said. “This is where I would get a platform to propel myself to America. … I came from a working class background, a single parent family, and I didn’t have much of anything growing up, so football was my ticket.”

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Clark’s father was not in the picture as his mother worked as a teacher to raise him and two younger sisters. Clark took charge at a young age, keeping an eye on his sisters when his mother taught night lessons. He also helped financially through retail and construction jobs while attending the academy.

As he developed, Clark’s coaches took him to the tight end. Clark continued to get bigger, better and stronger, improving his 40-yard dash from 5sec to 4.64sec.

“The evolution was unparalleled,” Clark said. “The physical development has been phenomenal and the development of football in terms of my IQ has gone crazy – so much so that I have been controlling players who have been playing their whole lives.”

During Clark’s sophomore year, he received his first college offer from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Shows started taking off after he attended Under Armor camp in Baltimore early in his junior year. During that trip, Clark also visited Temple, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tucson.

Prior to his visit, Clark was in contact with Temple Specials Coordinator and Tights Team coach, Adam Scheer. He told Clarke that he loved what he saw in the movie and was looking forward to his casual visit.

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After his visit, Clark received a FaceTime call from Scheier. When he answered the phone, Drayton was on his screen. Clark is shocked but excited. Drayton talked about the “Temple TUFF” branding and how Clarke fits into that. Clark was offered a scholarship right away.

Philadelphia reminded Clark of South London – the blue-collar district like his hometown. He also enjoyed the familial camaraderie that Drayton instilled in Temple in a short time.

Clark will soon be a part of that fabric. He plans to join the Owls in January and participate in the winter courses. Clarke hopes his journey will inspire other international players who want to play at the university level.

“Going to college and playing soccer isn’t just about playing soccer,” Clark said. “I’m leading the way for a lot of European players, where a lot of us can get into college football, so I hope to go out there and know where I’m coming from and make a real impact in building a winning programme.”