Rolando McClain's Reluctant New Role
Rolando McClain prefers to stay quiet and lead by example. When he was first approached about attending this event he thought "Why are y'all choosing me? Choose Javy," referring to his teammate Javier Arenas, who has a well-earned reputation as a big talker.
"I don't like to be in the eye of the media or in the limelight." McClain said. "I just want to do my work."
McClain won't have that luxury this season, however. Head coach Nick Saban has asked McClain to not only lead by example this season, but to be a vocal leader. If that requires McClain to instruct his younger teammates more, or attend SEC Media Days and to show up more for post-game interviews, then so be it.
"Anything that's going to help the team I don't mind doing," he said. "I don't mind staying late. I don't mind going over the playbook... I'm sure they're going to try to get me to do a couple of things (interviews) after games. I'm not really looking forward to it."
As tired as some non-Florida fans have grown about hearing about the greatness of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, McClain joined the parade of coaches and other players at SEC Media Days admiring Tebow's ability as a leader. He spoke of seeing Tebow on TV yelling at the Florida defense on the sideline and the way they responded. He wondered what Tebow had said.
"I may need to call him and get some advice," he said.
McClain was also asked to play team analyst. That's because no one outside the players have more access to the team workouts and passing drills during the summer, including the coach. Secondly, it's generally true that players will offer more in the way of evaluating their teammates than coaches will. Sometimes quality insight on what to look for from young players; sometimes they don't.
As analyst, McClain's first impression of the incoming freshman class, many of whom are already on campus working out, participating in 7-on-7 passing drills and learning the ropes from the upperclassmen before practice begins, was that they are "eager to learn." Specifically, he remarked that quarterback A.J. McCaron has shown a "great arm. Great release, and an ability to throw the deep ball," further speculation that he may be able to challenge redshirt freshman Star Jackson and walk-on Thomas Darrah for the back-up spot to Greg McElroy. He noted being impressed with linebackers Tana Patrick, Nico Johnson, and Petey Smith.
McClain also entertained questions about whether he might leave early for the NFL after this season. He said he hadn't really thought about it, and that he will sit down with his family and Saban at the end of the year and see what's best for him.
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