Nearly three years after committing to his dream school, quarterback Danny Clark is no longer a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes' 2017 recruiting class.
The first verbal pledge of an Urban Meyer talent haul now rated No. 1 overall in composite class rankings, Clark announced intentions to explore other opportunities through an emotional post on Twitter:
The 6'4", 223-pound prospect revealed he "spent a lot of nights crying and praying for an answer," ultimately leading him to decommit "with a very heavy heart" and "clear conscience." Clark, a senior at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio, has approximately four months to survey the collegiate landscape before national signing day.
Considered a 3-star recruit and the No. 18 pro-style passer in composite rankings, he joined the Buckeyes class shortly after his freshman season. The Ohio State scholarship offer arrived during a campus visit with his father, Jeff.
"After we talked and everything was official, Urban grabbed Danny and hugged him," Jeff Clark told Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com following the commitment. "We all hugged and shook hands and then I grabbed Danny and the tears started flowing, because then it was real."
The young quarterback would actually create a reminder of this moment in the form of a tattoo:
During the months and years that followed, Meyer's staff built a class around Clark that features 12 players considered top-five overall prospects at their respective positions. It's a group at least in part headlined by Las Vegas quarterback Tate Martell.
Like Clark, Martell built an early reputation on the national recruiting trail. He committed to the Washington Huskies in middle school and eventually spent his sophomore year pledged to the Texas A&M Aggies.
When Martell reopened his recruitment this spring, many analysts looked to Ohio State as a potential landing spot considering previous trips to campus and a skill set that suits Meyer's offensive attack. He became a Buckeyes commit June 12, clouding Clark's status with the program.
While Martell's commitment was among the most meaningful developments of this recruiting cycle, it didn't come as a surprise to Clark.
"Coach Meyer said there is a possibility that [a second quarterback could be brought into the class], but it doesn't really matter to me," he told Bleacher Report during the Elite 11 Columbus regional camp in May. "I've been competing my whole life, and I'm not really worried about them bringing another quarterback in. I'm coming in to compete and dominate."
Clark pointed to Ohio State's recent track record for proof that it takes more than one quarterback to build a championship program.
"Coach Meyer is a smart guy," he said. "Every big-time program needs to have at least four legit quarterbacks at one time. Just like Ohio State showed in 2014, that depth is so important. The star Heisman candidate (Braxton Miller) gets hurt in the offseason, then J.T. Barrett dominates the Big Ten and sets records before breaking his ankle in the Michigan game, then the third-stringer (Cardale Jones) rises up and wins a national championship."
The Buckeyes boast arguably the greatest future quarterback depth chart outlook in college football. Current starter and potential Heisman Trophy contender J.T. Barrett can return next season, but beyond 2017, there are multiple players who warrant optimism at Ohio State.
Redshirt freshman Joe Burrow, a former Ohio Mr. Football in high school, threw three touchdowns during this year's spring game. True freshman Dwayne Haskins, a top-100 overall recruit in the Buckeyes' most recent class, vied for 2015 Elite 11 MVP honors.
Martell, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback of 2017, and Emory Jones, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback of 2018, are each committed to Meyer. If things remain according to plan, these four prized passers could carry 13 total years of eligibility into the 2018 season.
Even with Clark out of the equation, you wonder if at least one of these quarterbacks is destined to transfer elsewhere in search of starting reps during his collegiate career. It's important to note Clark's December 2013 commitment occurred prior to Ohio State pledges from all four players.
"I never for one second pictured a scenario where I wasn't wearing the scarlet and grey," Clark wrote. "But sometimes the writing is on the wall, and you just have to see through the tears to read what it says."
Aside from an abundance of impressive scholarship athletes at the position, he acknowledged that perhaps Meyer's offensive philosophies aren't ideal for his strengths.
"I have been forced to accept the fact that as a pro-style QB, maybe my style of play would be a good fit elsewhere," Clark wrote.
According to 247Sports, Clark does not currently carry any other scholarship offers. However, given the longevity of his Ohio State commitment, this announcement is likely to inspire interest from various coaching staffs.
Kentucky views him as a potential target, according to Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal. Members of the Mid-American Conference located throughout the region may also be tempted to enter the mix.
Clark's goal of leading Ohio State out of the tunnel in Columbus won't be realized, but motivation shouldn't be lacking wherever he ultimately winds up.
"Please tell your son who I took a picture with, or signed his Buckeye gear, how much that moment meant to me," he wrote. "Tell him that his dreams can come true no matter what. They just might have to happen wearing a different color uniform. My story is not over, it is only beginning!"
Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.
Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.