Packers Host Former D1 Basketball Starters for TE Tryouts

Clark/Williams Workouts

Getty Darion Clark #0 of the USC Trojans stands on the court during a first-round game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament against the Arizona State Sun Devils at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC won 67-64.

The Green Bay Packers are evidently thinking outside of the box when it comes to exploring potential new additions to their depleted tight end room.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers hosted Darion Clark and Carson Williams — a pair of former Division I basketball starters — for tryouts over the past week after each of them transitioned from collegiate power forwards to NFL tight ends upon finishing their respective hoops careers.

The Packers also recently worked out tight ends Jared Rice and Daniel Crawford, the latter of whom was signed to their active roster on Tuesday after undrafted rookie wide receiver Bailey Gaither was placed on the reserve/retired list.

While the Packers feel comfortable with Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis as their two first-string tight ends, there are some depth questions to answer behind them midway through the second week of training camp. Josiah Deguara (ACL recovery) and Dominique Dafney (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, while 2019 third-rounder Jace Sternberger is suspended for the first two games of the 2021 season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy earlier this year.

The Packers also activated inside linebacker Ray Wilborn off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, filling the final opening on their 90-man camp roster.

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Clark & Williams Walking Similar NFL Paths

Clark, who began his career at UNC-Charlotte, played for two seasons at USC between 2014 and 2016 and averaged 4.3 points and 5.2 rebounds over 58 games with 16 starts. He also spent his final season at Grand Canyon University as a graduate transfer, upping his per-game averages to 7.8 points and 6.6 rebounds as a starter in 17 of 20 games.

Williams — Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2016 — was a little more efficient as a scorer during his collegiate career, playing two seasons each with Northern Kentucky and Western Kentucky (with a sit-out year between due to transfer rules) and averaging 11.2 points per game over his career. He was also a starter for the majority of his career (117 out of 124 games) between the two programs.

After college, Clark (6-foot-7, 235 pounds) and Williams (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) were each persuaded to pursue careers as professional football players and converted into NFL tight ends due to their size and strong hands. So far, neither player has been able to earn a legitimate place with an NFL team; though, Clark got a shot with the Chicago Bears in 2020 before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve for the season. Williams also briefly spent time with the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this year.

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