Clarence Denmark, a former University of Arkansas at Monticello football player and current player for the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was selected to the CFL All-Star Team last Thursday.
It is the Jacksonville, Florida native’s first all-star honor as a professional athlete. Denmark joined the Blue Bombers in 2011. In four seasons with Winnipeg, he has 3,418 career receiving yards on 248 receptions, including 13 touchdowns, This year, he is one of three players in the CFL with at least 1,000 yards with 65 catches for 1,080.
During his two-year career at UAM, Denmark totaled 1,586 yards on 91 catches. He earned All-Gulf South Conference honors as a senior in 2008 with 987 yards and 11 touchdowns.
BOMBERS’ CLARENCE DENMARK NAMED A CFL ALL-STAR
By: Kirk Penton, Winnipeg Sun
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The new group of receivers at Winnipeg’s 2011 training camp consisted of the following pass catchers: Perry Floyd, Tim Brown, Damian Sherman, Greg Betterson, Liam Mahoney, Kito Poblah, David McKoy, Jade Etienne and Clarence Denmark.
It is now safe to say, and actually has been for some time, that Denmark was the cream of that crop.
On Thursday the 29-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native was named a CFL all-star receiver for the first time in his career after finishing second in receiving yards this season. The Football Reporters of Canada and CFL head coaches conducted the voting.
“It feels good to be recognized,” Denmark said Thursday at Investors Group Field.
Denmark, who wasn’t voted a CFLPA all-star last week, was one of the few bright spots on a Bomber squad that finished out of the playoffs for the third year in a row with a 7-11 record. Denmark caught 65 passes for 1,080 yards and three touchdowns. He was one of only three CFL receivers to top the 1,000-yard mark, with Edmonton’s Adarius Bowman (1,456) and Montreal’s Duron Carter (1,030) the others.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound slotback was also the CFL’s most dangerous deep threat this season, hauling in a league-high 11 passes that went for 30 yards or more. He also tied for fourth in the league with 24 second-down conversion catches.
“For me it was just being consistent, and playing with Drew (Willy) was a big thing,” said Denmark, who signed a contract extension in September. “I tell everybody that just playing with a quarterback that’s in the game and you’re playing with him from week to week, it’s a good feeling to have that chemistry with your quarterback.”
There are those around the league who feel Denmark wouldn’t have been an all-star calibre receiver had others like Chad Owens and Marquay McDaniel been healthy, but the Jacksonville, Fla., product still had the sixth best per-game average at 60 yards per contest. Also, his durability can’t be overlooked; of the top 18 receivers this season (based on yards per game), Denmark was the only one who played all 18 games.
And he did it after an off-season in which he dealt with personal issues he wasn’t ready to reveal on Thursday.
“I went through some personal things that were real serious for me, and it took a lot for me to fight through that off the field and continue to keep the right mindset and continue to train and do things I was supposed to do to prepare for this season,” Denmark said. “So when all that happened for me I had to take time to look back on everything that I went through, and it was really big for me. It means a lot, and it shows me what I can go through and overcome.”
Denmark’s goal next season is to become more of a leader on offence, and that means becoming more vocal.
“I can step up and play that role,” he said. “I was under Terrence Edwards for a while, and I learned a lot from him. He played that role. It’s time for me to step up and play that role – be a lot more vocal and expect more out of the guys, and let them know I expect more out of them.”
This marks the third straight season the Bombers have had only one CFL all-star. Those are the fewest all-stars the Bombers have had over a three-year span since the all-star team was created in 1962.