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Health issues putting Steven Clark’s career in jeopardy

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This is more than football.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange football defensive tackle Steven Clark’s career is in jeopardy after it was discovered the sophomore is suffering from blood clots and a genetic disorder, he revealed to Syracuse.com reporter Stephen Bailey on Thursday.

Doctors made the diagnosis after evaluating Clark during his rehabilitation process from a sprained MCL and slight meniscus tear. Clark suffered the injury during practice on Nov. 8 after a teammate fell on the outside of Clark's knee.

Clark is currently taking blood thinners to combat the blood clots and hopes his last remaining blood clot, located in his calf, will dissolve by his next Doppler ultrasound test in mid-May, Bailey reports.

“If (the clot is) there, then I'll probably be on blood thinners for the rest of my life unless it goes away,” Clark told Bailey on Thursday. “And if I'm on blood thinners, obviously no contact sports.

“But there's maybe a 10 percent chance of that happening. It's coming along really well now. I'm running better and stuff like that. I think it's not really a big chance of being DQ'd.”

Playing contact sports while suffering from blood clots, or taking blood thinners, is extremely dangerous for a multitude of reasons, including potentially life-threatening. Several high profile professional athletes have had their careers derailed in recent years as a result of suffering from blood clots, including 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh.

Clark, a 6’2”, 295-pound defensive tackle started nine games at nose tackle as a sophomore last season for the Orange, totaling 16 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. If able to play, he would be one of Syracuse’s most experienced defensive linemen next season.

Clark first discovered he was suffering from blood clots just days after his initial injury, he told Bailey. After complaining to then-head football athletic trainer Denny Kellington about discomfort near his knee brace, Clark was taken to the emergency room where he had a Doppler ultrasound test done. The test revealed four clots around where the brace had been -- one in his groin, one in his thigh, one behind his knee and one in his calf.

However, that wasn’t the only medical issue discovered. Blood tests also showed Clark was suffering from Factor V Leiden, a genetic disorder he inherited from his mother which makes him more susceptible than the average person to blood clotting, in one of two genes.

Clark has participated in the majority of Syracuse’s offseason workouts, but will be limited to non-contact drills during spring practice once it begins on March 21, he told Bailey.