|Height: 6-4 | Weight: 249 | College: Alabama|
The grand prize in head coach Nick Saban's first recruiting class at Alabama, McClain rapidly developed into one of the premier players in the SEC. Looking to rebuild the program around a strong defense, the middle linebacker played a vital role in the team's rapid progression from also-ran to national champion.
The defensive signal-caller has the power and downhill ability to excel in stuffing the inside run. He also has the balance, speed and pursuit quickness to string plays wide. Before his arrival, the Tide ranked 46th in the nation vs. the run in 2006.
During his freshman campaign, McClain helped Alabama finish 28th in run force (124.15 yards per game). McClain and crew ranked second vs. the run in both 2008 (74.14 yards per game) and 2009 (77.92 yards per game).
While most college middle linebackers are a bit deficient in pass coverage, McClain was not. His loose hips, ability to stay on the hip of the receiver and refusal to bite on play action help him defending vs. the pass as well as he did the run.
Alabama would improve from 48th in the nation vs. the pass (221.31 yards per game) during his first season with the Tide, to ranking 10th nationally, allowing just 166.0 passing yards per game during his final campaign.
McClain was regarded by many to be the top linebacker in the nation during his days at Decatur High School. Rivals.com ranked him 25th overall in the prep ranks and the top player in the state of Alabama. He ranked 10th nationally by Scout.com and was the top-rated linebacker on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Top 100 list.
McClain was an Orlando Sentinel 2006 All-Southern team member, earning Parade All-American honors in his final season. He also received All-Region VIII honors as a linebacker and All-State accolades on defense and as a tight end. After his senior season, he competed in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
In 2006, McClain recorded 106 tackles, including 13.0 stops for loss. He posted 104 tackles, 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage, four sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a junior. He had 24 catches for 436 yards in his junior season and also started on the basketball team.
McClain made a big impact during his first season at Alabama. He was a first-team Fresh-man All-American pick by The Sporting News and a first-team Freshman All-Southeastern Conference choice by the league's coaches. He was also the recipient of the team's Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award in 2007.
That season he started nine of the 13 games in which he appeared. McClain finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles (38 solos) that included a sack, five stops for loss and a pressure. He also broke up four passes and had two interceptions.
In 2008, McClain not only established himself as one of the leaders on Alabama's defense as a sophomore, but as one of the best linebackers in the SEC and the country. The heady MIKE linebacker had a firm grasp of what the Crimson Tide was trying to accomplish in its complex 3-4 defensive scheme. A finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, he was a third-team All-American pick by The NFL Draft Report and the Associated Press.
The consensus All-SEC first-team selection started all 14 games, leading the team with 95 tackles (48 solos) while being the focal point of opponent's blocking schemes. He ranked 12th in the league with 6.79 tackles per game, recording 12.0 stops for loss that included three sacks. The Lombardi Award Watch List member deflected six passes, picked off another and recovered two fumbles.
The consensus All-American and All-SEC pick was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award, Butkus Award and Bednarik Award. He became the second Tide player and third SEC member to capture the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. He also earned team Player of the Week honors nine times.
McClain anchored a deep and talented linebacker corps that helped the Crimson Tide rank fourth nationally in total defense (242.22 yards per game) and second in rush defense (68.22 yards per game). He led the team with 105 tackles, adding four sacks while placing eighth in the conference while leading the Tide with 14.5 stops for loss. He also broke up four passes and intercepted two others.
McClain was held out of several practices leading up to the BCS Championship Game vs. Texas. When he missed the BCS Media Day with a case of stomach flu, questions about his availability for the title game began to swirl. He was limited in practice Tuesday, but Saban said that McClain was feeling better and would play if his condition continued to improve.
"We're not going to let him play unless the doctors say he can play," Saban said. "If he's sick, dehydrated, he's not going to play in the game. We're not going to put a player at risk regardless of what the circumstance relative to the game is. He's better today (but) he did not do much in practice." The linebacker would record two tackles for loss vs. Texas in the title clash.
It was later revealed that McClain has been battling Crohn's Disease since his high school freshman campaign. Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the rectum.
Symptoms depend on what part of the gastrointestinal tract is affected. It can range from mild to severe, and can come and go with periods of flare-ups. McClain, who takes medication for the disease, said it has never been a problem during game action. Quarterback David Garrad of the Jaguars has also played with the illness.
Shortly after Alabama defeated Texas to capture the national championship, McClain announced that he was leaving the school and applying for the 2010 NFL Draft.
Read & React: Excellent key-and-diagnose skills. Identifies the play quickly and has little to no wasted motion in getting to the action. Rarely fooled by misdirection. Recognizes screens quickly and attacks before linemen have a chance to set up blocks. Dedicated and he has to be kicked out of the film room.
Run defense: Prototypical size and strength for inside linebacker. Instinctive. Takes good angles to the ball. Good vision and balance to flow through the trash. Great strength in his hands to stack and shed blockers. Tall enough to locate the ballcarrier while being blocked and can forcefully toss the blocker to the side to make the play. Has good, not great speed lateral and straight-line speed to the sideline. Faster on the field than in workouts because of his instincts.
Pass defense: Gains good depth in his drops, but is stiff and struggles a bit changing direction to stay with receivers in man coverage. Alert in zone and shows good route recognition. Closes on the ball quickly. Long arms and quick hands to slap away the pass as it arrives. At least adequate ball skills (five career INTs).
Tackling: True thumper that can be an intimidating force in the middle. Classic hit-lift-drive tackler with the strength to knock the ballcarrier off his feet with the long arms to wrap around for the secure stop. Breaks down well in space to make the sure stop against smaller, quicker ballcarriers. Good hustle laterally, though he can give up too easily in pursuit downfield.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Great size and closing speed but he isn't there yet. Times his blitz well and gets skinny to get through the line of scrimmage. Doesn't show enough hand technique to disengage as a pass rusher. Relies on his bull rush to push the pocket and is strong enough for this to be effective. Savvy enough to get his hands up in the passing lanes when he can't get to the quarterback in time.
Intangibles: Described as a film junkie and defensive coordinator on the field. Is characterized as not only knowing his assignment on every defensive call, but also the job of every defensive teammate. Incredibly competitive. Never missed a game at Alabama. Voted a team captain in 2009 as a junior.
McClain started 37-of-41 games at middle linebacker for the Crimson Tide In 2009, he became the second Alabama player and third Southeastern Conference performer to be named the winner of the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker, as he joined Derrick Thomas of Alabama (1988) and Patrick Willis of Mississippi (2006) as the SEC's recipients since the award's inception in 1985 Recorded 275 tackles (139 solos) with eight sacks for minus-67 yards, 31.5 stops for losses totaling 126 yards and 17 quarterback pressures Caused one fumble and recovered two others, returning one 4 yards for a touchdown Deflected 14 passes and intercepted five others for 73 yards in returns (14.6-yard average) His 31.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage rank fourth in school history, joining Wallace Gilberry (38.5, 2004-07), Kindal Moorehead (34.0, 1998-2002) and DeMeco Ryans (33.0, 2002-05) as the only Tide players to produce 30 or more stops for loss in a career His 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in 2009 rank third on Alabama's season-record list behind Travis Carroll (16.0 in 1998) and Trevis Smith (16.0 in 1998).
Unanimous All-American first-team selection Recipient of the Butkus Award, becoming the second Tide player and third athlete in the conference to earn that honor since the award's inception in 1985 Semi-finalist for the Lombardi Award, Butkus Award and Bednarik Award Added All-Southeastern Conference first-team accolades Named the Bronko Nagurski Award National Defensive Player of the Week following the Kentucky game Selected Tide Player of the Week nine times in 2009 Started all 14 games at middle linebacker, leading the team for the second consecutive year with a career-best 105 tackles (53 solos), ranking eighth in the SEC with an average of 7.5 hits per game Had four tackles and led the team with 14.5 stops for losses of 63 yards, ranking third in the league with an average of 1.04 stops for loss per game His 14.5 tackles behind the line rank third on the school season-record chart Generated 14 quarterback pressures and caused one fumble Deflected four passes and intercepted two others for 21 yards in returns Chased down opposing ball carriers 75 times, limiting the opposition to 163 yards and no touchdowns on the ground, as the Tide finished second in the nation in rush defense (87.67 yards per game) McClain registered eight third-down stops vs. the run and twelve more vs. the pass He delivered seven of his tackles inside the red zone, including two on goal-line stands.
All-American third-team selection by The NFL Draft Report and Associated Press Finalist for the Butkus Award Consensus All-Southeastern Conference first-team choice Was named the Crimson Tide's Outstanding Defensive Performer and Defensive Player of the Year Added Academic All-SEC honors Took over middle linebacker duties full-time, starting all 14 games Led the team with 95 tackles (48 solo) that included three sacks for minus-22 yards and two pressures Led the Tide with 12.0 stops for minus 45 yards, ranking 12th in the SEC (0.86 per game) Batted down six passes and intercepted another for a 12-yard return Also recovered two fumbles, returning one 4 yards for a touchdown vs. Kentucky Led a unit that ranked second in the nation in rush defense (74.14 yards per game), tied for third in total defense (263.5 yards per game) and placed seventh in scoring defense (14.29 points per game).. The Tide did not allow more than 100 yards rushing in 11 contests.
Freshman All-American first-team pick by The Sporting News and Freshman All-SEC first-team selection by the league's media Recipient of the team's Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award Played in thirteen games, starting nine contests while coming off the bench vs. Houston, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe Finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles (38 solo), as he produced a 9-yard sack and five stops for losses of 14 yards Deflected four passes and intercepted two others for 40 yards in returns.
2003: Diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a freshman in high school.
2008: Left the Mississippi State game (11/15) briefly after he suffered a hand laceration deflecting a pass.
2009: Suffered a hamstring strain vs. Tennessee (10/24) Limited in practices prior to the BCS Championship Game due to flu-like symptoms.
Campus: 4.69 in the 40-yard dash 1.68 10-yard dash 2.66 20-yard dash 4.41 20-yard shuttle 7.91 three-cone drill 35-inch vertical jump 9'1" broad jump Bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times 33-inch arm length Right hand measured 9-inches/left hand measured 9 3/8-inches.
Attended Decatur (Ala.) High School, playing football for head coach Jere Adcock
Regarded by many to be the top linebacker in the nation Rivals.com ranked him 25th overall in the prep ranks and the top player in the state of Alabama Ranked 10th nationally by Scout.com and was the top-rated linebacker on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Top 100 list Orlando Sentinel 2006 All-Southern team member, earning Parade All-American honors in his final season Received All-Region VIII honors as a line-backer and All-State accolades on defense and as a tight end After his senior season, he competed in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl In 2006, McClain recorded 106 tackles, including 13.0 stops for loss Had 104 tackles, 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage, four sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a junior Also made 24 catches for 436 yards in his junior season Started on the basketball team.
General Studies major Born 7/14/89 Resides in Decatur, Alabama.