Player capsule: Tyler McClure
Position: Offensive line
Weight: 295 pounds
2016 season quick review: McClure spent the majority of Arizona State's spring practice slate in 2016 working with the first-team offense following the departure of multi-year starter Nick Kelly. The Sun Devils signed junior college center A.J. McCollum to fill the void left by Kelly, but McCollum was not immediately eligible last spring which gave McClure an opportunity to prove his value to the Sun Devils' coaching staff. Though McCollum wound up playing ahead of McClure in the fall, McClure earned his first career start for the Sun Devils against Washington State and earned more playing time in the final weeks of the season as the team's depth along the offensive line became decimated by injuries.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: One of the top walk-ons on ASU's roster, McClure has put himself in an excellent position to earn a scholarship this fall thanks to consistent practice habits and his emergence as a player the Sun Devils may depend on at the center position.
An injury in high school prevented McClure from attracting major interest from colleges, but he still considered staying in-state and playing at Northern Arizona. Instead, though, McClure attempted to walk-on at ASU and try his luck in Tempe, and the decision finally played off with his first career start in 2016.
Though McClure played behind McCollum for much of last season, the transition to new offensive coordinator Billy Napier's scheme and McClure's continued development has reopened the competition at the center position, where the fifth-year seniors battled throughout the spring.
Even though McClure isn't a scholarship player, he's a scholarship-caliber offensive lineman who brings many valuable attributes to a complex offense, specifically at the center position.
While McClure isn't nearly as strong or physical as McCollum, he's a better overall athlete who has more versatility and is comfortable executing with some of the rangier blocks required at the position. McClure is capable of working to the second level in the run game, and he's faster and more mobile than McCollum which are important assets for a team looking to incorporate stretch plays and outside zone concepts into its offense.
Additionally, McClure's mobility and anticipation skills make him a better fit for protecting the A-gap against blitzers and stunting linemen, because he's able to react and shuffle his feet in a way that helps him seal off a direct path toward the quarterback.
Where McClure struggles is with blocking in tight quarters, which is an essential element of playing the center position. McClure doesn't have the type of brute strength McCollum or left guard Sam Jones possess, and that's somewhat limiting when he's trying to gain leverage against nose tackles and interior defensive linemen, especially those who are blessed with powerful lower bodies. McClure also hasn't demonstrated the ability to finish blocks with regularity, and is sometimes caught creating a stalemate at the line of scrimmage when he should be driving a player backward.
What should serve McClure well in the battle for the center job is his workmanlike attitude and cerebral approach to the game. A biomedical engineering major, McClure is among the smartest and most well-spoken linemen along ASU's front, and he appears to be a natural at taking charge up front when he's asked to identify fronts and call out the Mike.
There's no doubt McClure has some limitations as a center, but he's certainly talented enough to be in the discussion for the starting job this fall which demonstrates how much he's progressed over the course of his career.
Projected depth chart status: The battle between McClure and McCollum figures to be one of the most intriguing competitions on the offensive side of the ball for ASU this fall, and the player the coaching staff picks as the starter will indicate the attributes the Sun Devils' offensive staff value in a center. McClure and McCollum are very different players who have separate sets of strengths and weaknesses, but both are veteran linemen capable of being serviceable in the Pac-12.