Greg McLain has been slowed to a near crawl by injury over the past year, however. He suffered a concussion during the first day of Alabama football full pads practice last August. After talking things over with the team doctors, the coaching staff decided to move McLain from fullback to tight end.
"It was frustrating because I was really looking to impress the new coaching staff and I get a concussion on the first day (in pads)," he said. "It was a major setback because I couldn't prove to the coaches what I could do."
McLain has had concussions before, in his freshman season against Vanderbilt and in high school. Like many players, McLain dismissed the injury in high school.
"I have had them before," he said, "but I came from a small 2A school (Lineville) where you would just shake it off and get back in there since we played both ways. Now that I have had a couple in college, I know that I had them in high school, too."
When he returned in '03, McLain was equipped with a thick cushion to wear atop his helmet (he refers to it as a "dum-dum?), which softened any potentially dangerous blows to the head.
McLain played through more pain at the end of 2003, and had surgery in December to remove bone chips from his elbow. The surgeon had to cut through his tricep to get to the elbow, McLain said. While rehabbing from the initial surgery, he tore his tricep just two days before the beginning of spring practice which required another surgery to repair. He has approximately a six-inch scar beginning just below his elbow, and continuing up to about midway on the back of his arm.
"I can tell it's starting to get back to being right,"McLain said. "I'm starting to get some confidence back. I just started lifting free weights again and I can tell it is getting stronger. They told me everything will take a year or longer to fully heal but I will be able to play wearing a brace.?
McLain said he'll be ready when fall camp starts, and that he will be able to play the "F-back"position, which is a hybrid fullback/tight end. If there were ever any doubts about McLain's toughness as a football player, he hopes to clear them up this fall. "You can only change what's in your control," he said. McLain said his main focus is improving his conditioning over the summer and improving his blocking technique.
Although he is not considering it, McLain still has the opportunity for a redshirt season.
McLain will be fighting for a spot with David Cavan, who is expected to be fully recovered from knee surgery, and Clint Johnston who has battled neck and shoulder issues. True freshman Trent Davidson and Nick Walker will be in the mix when fall camp starts as well.