Shawn Clark said he laid in bed with his wife Jonelle in 2004 talking about a day when he might be the football coach at his alma mater, Appalachian State University. That day officially came Friday.

The Mountaineers took the interim tag off Clark on Friday, making the Charleston native and George Washington High graduate the program’s 22nd head coach.

His first order of business – get the 20th-ranked Sun Belt Champion Mountaineers ready for their Dec. 21 New Orleans Bowl matchup with UAB.

“Let’s state the obvious: I’ve inherited a great program,” Clark said during his introductory remarks Friday. “It’s a program I am proud to have had a part in building as a player and a coach.”

Clark and App State agreed to a five-year deal that runs through the 2024 season.

Clark replaces Eli Drinkwitz, who recently took the head coaching job at Missouri. He had been the assistant head coach under Drinkwitz, while also coaching the offensive line. He has been a part of Appalachian State’s coaching staff since 2016.

Since arriving in Boone as offensive line coach, App State has ranked in the Football Bowl Subdivision’s top 25 in rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed. The Mountaineers have won the Joe Moore Award, given to the top 15 offensive lines in the country,

This isn’t Clark’s first tour in Boone, North Carolina. The former Patriots football standout was a four-year starting offensive lineman for the Mountaineers, named to the All-Southern Conference team three times and an All-American twice.

During Clark’s coaching tenure in Boone, the Mountaineers have won Sun Belt titles every year. He said Friday that he wants his teams to continue the winning tradition he has enjoyed there as both player and coach.

“What can you expect moving forward, you may ask,” Clark said. “You can expect a football team that holds up our winning tradition, a football team that is tough and exceeds expectations, and a football team that stands together because, in destiny, you rarely arrive alone.”

Clark began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Louisville in 2001. He was offensive line coach at Eastern Kentucky from 2003-08 and moved to Purdue as offensive line coach from 2009-12. From 2013-15, Clark coached at Kent State, serving as offensive line coach, run game coordinator and assistant head coach.

But the opportunity to return to Boone was too good to pass up. As he stood before the crowd at Friday’s press conference, he said that was even more evidence that he made the right decision.

“You talk about an old country boy from West Virginia,” he said, “and all these people are here to see me and my family. That’s really special.”

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or derek.redd@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.