College Coaches Know This Big Lineman

This defensive prospect is too big and too good to hide from college football scouts.

Vidalia, Ga.--This south Georgia town is known around the South for the sweet brand of onions it exports around the country. Onions aren't the only good thing coming out of Vidalia. There are scores of college coaches across the country who would love to take delivery of a large and talented defensive lineman from that town.

Big Eric McClendon, a tackle from Vidalia High School, is the kind of prospect who was well known by football coaches across the SEC and other conferences during his junior season. At the recent Nike Combine at Auburn, McClendon checked in at six-foot-five inches tall in bare feet and weighed 283 pounds.

With good quickness, lots of strength and a body that looks more like an NFL player than a high school junior, McClendon is the kind of prospect that college coaches are always looking for but can seldom find.

Eric McClendon plays both ways in high school, but expects to be a defensive lineman in college.

Auburn coaches are well aware of the big defensive tackle who was one of the most impressive summer campers on the AU campus in 2002 prior to his junior season. This spring, he returned to Auburn for the combine and may be back later for another summer football camp.

McClendon just finished taking night school classes to help him get ready academically for college and one of his last projects as a junior was to throw the shot put for Vidalia High at the Georgia Track And Field State Championships. He had an impressive toss of 52 feet, 10 inches, which was good enough for second place. He also took second place at the Georgia powerlifting state championship that was won by Auburn signee Josh Thompson, a noseguard who will join the Auburn football team in August.

McClendon, who also has a 34-inch vertical leap, says he is working out this summer to be stronger as a senior. "I bench 375 pounds," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I squat 585 and I power clean 350. By the time I graduate I want to be benching at least 405, squatting 600 and power-cleaning 385."

McClendon says his best 40-yard dash time is 4.91 and that he will play both defense and offense as a senior, which will be his fourth season as a starter. "All the colleges are recruiting me as a defensive tackle," he says. Currently, Georgia looks to be the team to beat and he plans to attend a summer camp at the UGA campus for a second straight year and may be back at AU again.

The big defensive lineman says he hopes to close his high school playing days on a strong team. "We will probably be better than we were last year," he says. "I know for a fact we will be better than we were on defense. We are switching offenses. We are playing a Wing-T. It is going to take some time to get used to it, but we will be OK." As a junior, McClendon contributed 57 tackles with six quarterback sacks and eight tackles for losses. Look for those numbers to improve in 2003 as the big tackle continues to develop as a blue chip prospect.

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