Bitter And Better

This Auburn Tiger discusses his peculiar football season.

Auburn, Ala.--Stanley McClover admits he is bitter and considering the circumstances surrounding his inactivity from college football games this fall, he probably has a right to be unhappy.

One of the bluest of the bluechip prospects in Auburn's 2003 signee class, he was shocked earlier this year when the NCAA Clearinghouse did not qualify him for freshman eligibility. A class that he had taken as a junior had a grade changed through proper channels from a "B" to an "A." After McClover's senior year, the clearinghouse ruled that the grade should stay a "B" and because of that McClover's core grade point average dropped to just below the required number.

McClover and Auburn appealed that initial ruling and got no satisfaction although a committee that heard the case declared that he could accept his scholarship to attend classes at Auburn, but he would have to do it as a partial academic qualifier even though he does not fit into the guidelines for being a partial qualifier. That means he can practice this season, but not play until his sophomore season.

"I don't get my freshmen year back so it is basically like I am just wasting a year," McClover says. "The worst part to me is knowing that I can play and not being able to."

Stanley McClover (55) is shown at Tuesday's practice.

The six-foot-four, 265-pounder has been impressive in workouts and has put on 10 pounds of muscle in recent months. He spent his time practicing with his position coach Terry Price and the other ends while awaiting a ruling from the NCAA and had done enough to figure into the team's playing rotation for 2003. However, after he was declared a partial qualifier, McClover was sent to the scout team to help prepare the offense for each week's opponent.

"My mindset is to get the offensive team better," McClover says. "I go hard at practice and compete every day so I can at least hold my position down for next year. I like to work on my pass rush. I am trying to get better as a run stopper so I will be ready to compete for a starting job in spring training."

Price has seen enough of the big freshman to know that he can play at the SEC level. "He is an exceptional talent," the defensive ends coach notes. "He has spent most of his time on the scout team so we haven't had a lot of time to work one on one, but when we do he has shown that he has a lot of talent so hopefully he will develop a lot over there. I can't wait for a chance to work with him full-time in the spring.

Price says he has also been pleased with how McClover is making the best of a bad situation. "He is a class kid," Price says. "He is as good as they get. He has not gone in the tank or practiced bad because of what happened to him. He has practiced hard every single day. He has the right attitude. Because of that I think he is going to be a real good player for us in the future."

McClover missed the first two weeks of the fall semester waiting on the NCAA to make a final ruling on his status. He has been playing catch up in the classroom, but is doing a good job in that area.

"We got a memo Tuesday that said he is pretty much caught up in everything with his classes, which is exceptional considering the late start he had school-wise," Price notes. "That is better than we anticipated. I thought he would be far behind and would really struggle."

McClover says that he has been working hard to get caught up with all five of his classes. "I am on track now," he says. "School is going good. I had to play catch up because I missed the two weeks. I am trying to get a good GPA under my belt so I don't have anything to stop me from getting on the field next season."

Although he isn't playing in football games, he is staying busy with the redshirt workouts in addition to practicing with the scout team. Coach Yox (strength and conditioning head coach Kevin Yoxall) works me real hard, especially because he knows I have a short amount of time to get done what I want to get done," McClover says. "I don't have that extra year that everybody else does. He pushes me hard and I have to do that. I have a different plan in life now."

The freshman lifts weights six days a week, including two-hour sessions with the other redshirts on Thursdays and Saturdays. "I am getting stronger with those redshirt workouts," McClover adds. "No doubt about that. I have no choice but to get stronger?"

Head coach Tommy Tuberville says it is a shame that McClover can't play this year. The defensive end says that sometimes when his head coach is in a game he will look at McClover in situations in which a talented pass rusher like the defensive end is needed and will just shake his head. "Sometimes on third downs during the games Coach Tubs will look at me and keep looking at me, but I can't do anything," McClover says.

The defensive end says he is eager for the 2004 season to arrive. In the meantime, he is trying to make the best of a bad situation. "It is hard to deal with what happened to me," he says. "I still can't deal with it all. I have got to though. I have no choice. I just want to play real bad. I can't wait until I get out there and play for real next year."

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