Clarence Denmark, an all-star professional football player, is one of four University of Arkansas at Monticello graduates who have been selected to receive alumni awards at an inaugural dinner for UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes on October 21.
Demark will receive the 2016 UAM Alumni Award for Achievement and Merit.
Denmark, along with Roger McClellan, David Leech and Louine Leech, will be recognized on Friday, October 21 at 6 p.m. in the John F. Gibson University Center. For tickets, contact Christy Pace at (870) 460-1020 or [email protected] before October 12, 2016.
Clarence Denmark followed a circuitous path from his home in Jacksonville, Florida, to the Canadian Football League. An athletic wide receiver blessed with size, speed, strength and sure hands, Denmark attracted Division I suitors during his senior year at Robert E. Lee High School. Denmark earned all-conference honors while catching passes, returning kicks and playing defensive back, but his academics meant junior college.
Denmark played two seasons at Mississippi Delta JC, earning second team All-State honors in 2005 and signed with Division I Troy University as a late addition to the Trojans’ 2006 recruiting class. Denmark went to Troy for a semester before transferring to UAM, much to the delight of the Boll Weevil coaching staff.
Denmark made an immediate impact, catching 37 passes for 599 yards, 3 touchdowns and an average of 16.2 yards per catch. He topped those marks as a senior in 2007 with 54 catches for 987 yards and a whopping 18.2 yards per reception.
Those numbers caught the eye of professional scouts from both the CFL and the National Football League. Denmark signed as an undrafted free agent with his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars and spent two years on the practice squad before being released.
In 2011, he was signed by the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a match, as it turns out, made in football heaven. Playing on the CFL’s larger field with passing on almost every down, Denmark exploded onto the scene with 65 receptions for 818 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2012, he made 55 receptions for 649 yards and added 64 receptions for 900 yards in 2013. Denmark enjoyed his best season in 2014 with 65 receptions for 1,080 yards, 3 touchdowns and selection to the West squad of the CFL All-Star Game. Now nine games into his sixth season in the CFL, Denmark has accumulated 325 receptions for 4,482 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Denmark knew little about the CFL and admits to a little culture shock with the move north of the border. “It was my first time out of the country,” he said. “I had to get a passport. And the weather is really different. We get snow in September. I didn’t know much about the league when I first came up here, and I was surprised by the quality of play.”
Fields in the CFL are 10 yards longer and 15 yards wider than those in the U.S., with end zones 20 yards deep and goal posts on the goal line. Each team receives three downs, not four, and the play clock is 20 seconds. “It’s definitely a faster, more wide open game,” he said. “You have to be good in the passing game. The larger field is a plus because it gives you more room to move around.”