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Clark, Stribling pick up where they left off

SEATTLE – Jeremy Clark and Channing Stribling were senior cornerbacks at Michigan in 2016. It was a season they had been working toward, determined to lock down opposing receivers and help the Wolverines to another successful season.

Everything was unfolding as planned, until the fourth game of the season, a 49-10 win over Penn State.

Clark’s season ended during that victory. He suffered a torn ACL. His college career was over.

At the time, it seems like that might be the end of Clark and Stribling’s time as teammates. Clark went on to rehab and was selected by the Jets in the sixth round of the 2017 draft, while Stribling signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent.

Two years later, though, the Wolverines have been reunited in Seattle as corners for the Dragons.

“Before I tore my knee up, we were the starting corners out there,” Clark said. “We’re trying to bring that back to life.”

Stribling added, “We’re trying to get back on that.”

For Clark, the XFL provides an opportunity to show what he can do when healthy.

“It’s been cool just playing football again,” he said. “You can’t take it for granted. It’s good to get another opportunity to play.”

For Stribling, it’s a chance to get his football career “back on track.”

“It’s been going well, just getting back into playing football,” he said. “It’s been a while.”

Clark and Stribling were close in college, so when Clark was drafted by the Jets, it took time to make the transition to a new team.

“When I was in New York I was telling my parents it’s kind of weird to be out there and not know anyone, so it was heart-warming to have my brother here,” Clark said. “It’s good to play with him again.”

As a team, the Dragons have bonded quickly for a team that didn’t have a single player on its roster two months ago. But the defensive backs seem to have clicked as well as any position on the team.  

“The same way we had it in Michigan, we’re trying to do the same thing here,” Stribling said. “Everybody is tightknit. We’ve got the group chat, making sure everyone brings the energy.”

When asked about playing for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, Clark said the coach, “demanded a lot from us.”

Two weeks into minicamp, Clark is seeing similarities between the lofty expectations set by his college coaches and the standards laid out by Jim Zorn’s staff.

“I think it’s going to be the same,” Clark said. “The coaches demand a lot from us. I can still see us winning a lot here, too.”

Clark and Stribling didn’t expect to be teammates again after Clark’s injury. But sometimes life takes a serendipitous turn.  

“We didn’t miss a beat,” Clark said. “We’re picking up where we left off.”