In his fifth year with the Arizona State program, Tyler McClure finally realized his dream of receiving a scholarship, the program announced Wednesday.
The scholarship seemed to be an inevitability this season, but McClure had been in a similar situation just a year ago. During spring practices in 2016, McClure spent more time working with the first unit at center than anyone else on the Arizona State roster.
McClure was competing for more than just a spot on the field, however. As a walk-on out of Chandler High School, he was trying to alleviate the financial burden of his parents, who were paying for his college education.
By the time preseason camp ended several months later, McClure was with the third-team and the scholarship that seemed tantalizingly close wasn't available. But he wasn't deterred.
McClure continued to work, and earned his first career start in ASU's 37-32 loss to Washington State on Oct. 22, when starter A.J. McCollum wasn't available for what was described by the program as "personal reasons." It was the only start made by McClure during the season, but he played most of the game against Oregon after an injury to Stephon McCray, and he continued to work.
This spring, McClure pushed up to the point where he was splitting reps with McCollum. The seniors are engaged in a legitimate battle to be the team's starting center in 2017.
The scholarship he'd long sought was awarded to McClure by ASU coach Todd Graham this week. It won't change whether or not he is awarded the starting center position, but it matters a great deal all the same.
“I think Tyler is a guy that just epitomizes to me what a Sun Devil is all about," Graham said in March. "Great character, great discipline, tough, just not going to be denied. He’s worked his tail off and I always have respect for guys like that."
McClure said that his family has been a focusing influence on his life as he's battled to make this accomplishment possible.
“I think it’s mostly a testament to my parents pretty much, I just want to go out and make them proud," McClure said during spring practices. "They’re paying my way for school and that’s really expensive and they’re making a lot of sacrifices so when I got that first start, they were the first people I called. And they were super proud and super happy and really excited about it.
“My mom, she’s my number one fan so she was freaking out. She was beside herself and super happy and super proud and I think she took like 100 pictures of me on the field. So it was a good thing to see her so happy.”