McClover Coming On Strong In Spring Drills

This young defensive end is making a lot of noise during Auburn's spring practice sessions.

Auburn, Ala.--If you look at Stanley McClover's stats from Thursday's scrimmage you might not be impressed by what he can do on the football field, but if you saw it in person you no doubt left impressed by the athleticism of the sophomore from Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

No play better signified his talents than a hustle play when Carnell Williams appeared to have taken one the distance for a 99-yard touchdown against the first-team defense. After breaking into the secondary, Williams roared down the sidelines and after getting away from a tackle by Montae Pitts, it looked like smooth sailing.

That's when speed and talent took over from McClover with the help of cornerback David Irons. Chasing from behind, Irons forced Williams to turn his run back inside and McClover was there to make the hit. The impact forced a fumble that Irons pounced on before Williams could get to it. That play was perhaps the most impressive defensive effort of the spring even though it happened after a 68-yard gain.

"That felt good," McClover says. "It was the best feeling I have had since I have been out here."

The 6-3, 252-pound McClover is an imposing figure on the football field.

A terror on the scout team all of last season after being ruled a partial qualifier, McClover dealt offensive tackles Mark Pera and Marcus McNeill fits using his speed to rush off the corner. Now anxious to show what he can do, McClover has moved ahead of Marquies Gunn as the number one weakside defensive end and he says that's what he's been shooting for since arriving last fall.

"I've been working the whole last year to get to this point," McClover says. "Now I'm at this point and I feel real good about it. I feel like all the work is paying off so far. I'm just still getting used to the speed of the game. When I was on the scout team it was mostly freelancing. When you are on the first team and with the defense you have a certain responsibility that you have to do. There are certain things you have to do because the whole defense has a job."

Even though he's moved into the top spot, it hasn't caused McClover to rest on his laurels. If anything he's become even more keen on working to become adjusted to the speed of the game in the SEC. He says that while he's the starter at the moment, he knows that Coach Terry Price is going to go with the best player on a given day.

"I have to always stay on my toes," McClover says. "I can never get relaxed. I have got to play hard every practice because Coach Price shows no favoritism. If Marquis (Gunn) has a good practice and I am slow on practice, Marquis will have a chance to be number one."

One of the things the coaching staff wondered about coming into this spring was which players would step up in the leadership roles so obviously vacant with players like Reggie Torbor, Karlos Dansby, Demarco McNeil and Dontarrious Thomas gone off last year's team. McClover says that quite a few players have done a good job this spring to take over those roles with Travis Williams being the ring leader for the front seven.

"Travis is really a good leader," McClover says. "He keeps us motivated out there. I believe he's taken over the role of Karlos Dansby. Another person would probably be Carlos Rogers. I think he's stepping up into the leadership role. We just need somebody to step up when things are down, somebody that's going to make a big play and inspire you to make a big play."

While many have heard of his exploits on the football field, Saturday will be the first chance for many Auburn fans to see McClover in action and that's something he says excites him. Trying to put on a show is something he wants to do in Saturday's A-Day Game and he says he hopes the fans leave happy with what they see.

"I just hope they see a person that can replace Reggie (Reggie Torbor)," McClover says. "I hope they feel good about the defense and don't feel bad because we lost a lot of people. We have a lot of people coming in that are doing good. I just want them to know they've got a pass rusher."

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