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Ouachita Baptist defensive lineman Clark Yarbrough dies

Clark Yarbrough was a starting senior on the Ouachita Tigers football team.

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP) – Ouachita Baptist University senior Clark Yarbrough, a 21-year-old starting defensive lineman on the school’s football team, died Sunday morning, Sept. 4, after a sudden collapse.

University staff provided immediate emergency assistance, and, following additional measures by emergency responders and other medical professionals, he was pronounced dead at Baptist Health Medical Center in Arkadelphia.

In the wake of Yarbrough’s death, a gathering was held Monday at 8:30 p.m. in the school’s Berry Chapel to provide a time for prayer and support

Originally from Rowlett, Texas, Yarbrough was a business administration/sport management major and earned a spot in the Tigers’ starting lineup in 2021, earning All-Great American Conference honorable mention accolades for his efforts on the field.

Yarbrough was the son of Mattie Yarbrough of Rowlett. He is remembered on campus for the example he set as a leader, a scholar-athlete, a friend and a man of faith.

“Clark was an exemplary student – academically, athletically and spiritually,” said Rickey Rogers, vice president for student development at Ouachita. “He held strongly to his Christian faith, and it was evident in the way he lived his life and led his fellow students.”

Jason Jackson, a senior finance major and Tiger defensive back from DeKalb, Texas, said Yarbrough was “a special kind of guy. He always led me in the right direction, from the day I got here until the last conversation I had with him. He made me feel welcomed, like I had a real brother in Christ at a brand-new university where, at first, I felt like I was all alone. Clark was my first friend when I got here, and I will cherish him forever.”

Bryan McKinney, dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business at Ouachita, was a professor of Yarbrough’s as well as his academic advisor. McKinney noted that Yarbrough “made an immediate impact on me” in class. “He was always present, always engaged. And he offered so much. He would often ask or answer questions, and he was so thoughtful in how he did this.”

McKinney was so impressed with Yarbrough that he reached out to Todd Knight, head Tiger football coach, to learn more about him. Knight’s response about Yarbrough read, “He’s a good one in all areas of life – faith, academics, football, all solid. I trust and respect him.”

“Coach Knight was right,” McKinney said. “Clark was so solid in all areas of life, and I admired that very much in him. Obviously his family, teammates and closest friends will grieve this loss most significantly, but goodness, I will miss him as well. He was one of those students I expected to stay in touch with well beyond his time at Ouachita. I hoped to encourage him in his journey forward, and I knew he would be a blessing to me.”

Although he was a senior academically, he had two years of football eligibility remaining, including the 2022 season. Knight recently had a conversation with Yarbrough about his future with the team since he was on pace to graduate in Spring 2023.

“Clark was that kind of young man, always thinking and preparing for what’s next,” Knight said. “He wanted to be an athletic director and was already making plans for internships and graduate school.”

Knight said Yarbrough was a quiet leader who lived out his favorite Bible verse, James 4:10, which says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Asked how the Tigers will be impacted by the loss of their highly-regarded teammate, Knight said, “We were already playing for a purpose, but now there’s an added sense of motivation. It’s something we are going to take very seriously.”

A visitation will be held Thursday, Sept. 15, from 6-8 p.m. at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas; a celebration of life service will be held the next day at Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, at 11 a.m.

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