July 26, 2021
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

What does wearing #18 mean to me? By Damone Clark, LSU’s #18

Damone Clark makes tackle during the 2021 LSU Spring game. Photo taken by Gridiron Football photographer Jason Saucier.
Damone Clark #18

There is a rich tradition behind wearing #18 at LSU. I have been fortunate enough to wear it both this past year and this year as well. Some fantastic players have worn #18 before me and I am truly blessed and honored to be chosen to wear it. I see how much is expected of me and I will do everything I can to prove myself to LSU nation and the world this year! The tradition started with Matt Mauck who led LSU to their first national title in football since 1958. Mauck’s success both on and off the field and relentless attitude led to setting the standard for LSU as well as the #18. Players who carry the #18 jersey are expected to exhibit many of the same characteristics as Mauck himself demonstrated. To be named by the coaches and teammates at LSU is a big deal because it means that you are following in the footsteps of some of the greats who have worn the purple and gold. I never expected that I would be selected for such a prestigious number. Being selected to wear #18 in the locker room in front of my teammates and coaches will be a moment I will never forget. While I did not expect to be chosen, I was selected because I am a leader on the team who leads by example and sets the standard for LSU football. Another key factor in my selection is the fact that I am a high character guy.

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Tre’Davious White wore #18 in 2015-2016 and was a force to be reckoned with. In 2014 White was a Freshman All-SEC by the coaches, a 2015 2nd Team All-SEC, a 2016 Thorpe Award finalist, 2016 All-American, and was selected 27th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the last #18 to wear it two years in a row, followed by me this year. Both K’Lavon Chaisson and Lloyd Cushenberry were chosen to wear #18 in 2019. Both of those guys were high character guys, were leaders on the team, and players and fans were able to count on them. Chaisson a 1st round pick #20 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft exemplified the term Student-Athlete. He was a 3x SEC Academic Honor Roll player as well as a 2x All SEC player and CFB National Semifinals Defensive MVP vs Oklahoma. Cushenberry was the #83 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He too was an SEC Academic Honor Roll guy, a 2019 LSU Football MVP, and a 2019 Joe Moore Award winner. As you can see, being honored to wear #18 means more than just a having a football jersey.

All players that have worn the #18 take an interest in the current #18 wearer. They have certain expectations for those who wear the #18 to live up to. Last year was an unusual year and a year that many may not forget. I know that I won’t forget it. Reflecting on last year being selected #18 and the change of events that occurred made me strong and more dominant to the point where I am eager for revenge. Life brings many trials and tribulations but it’s how you react to them. The saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it,” holds great meaning for me. Obstacles come and go in life but the outcome is determined by me! I am in charge of my destiny and nobody can stop me but me. Many may think of #18 as just a number but I look at it as a rich tradition that will continue to be passed down as long as LSU Football exists. My goal is to be one of the greatest players to ever put on purple and gold, not only for my athletic ability but also academics as well. I am proud to wear #18 because of how prestigious the number is and the quality of people who have worn it before me.

The coaches, trainers, staff at Cox Communication Center for Student-Athletes have done so much for me in my time here at LSU and have turned me into the person I am today. I am so deeply grateful for all of the hard work that they do to make me and all of my teammates successful both on and off the field. I understand the hardships that go with wearing #18 and have seen those before me set the tone and lead the football team.

As we are getting ready for the 2021 football season, it is my goal everyday to make myself and my team better. We want to prove that 2020 is behind us and that we are better than we were. As I am writing this, I am excited about our workouts with coach Moffit and that tomorrow we will be running the stadium. We run these steps for every one of our 102,000 fans that will be watching inside Death Valley and millions more watching at home. Tiger Nation, get ready for another great season.

Be on the lookout for my next article, coming soon.

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