McClover Eager to Be A Defensive Leader

Stanley McClover talks about his progress in returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out of preseason practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Stanley McClover has been back on the field for the Tigers for a week after being held out of preseason practice for almost three weeks with a hamstring injury, and the 6-2, 258-pound defensive end says he is almost back to where he wants to be.

"It is real good to be back," he notes. "I feel like I am 100 percent. I have just got to get back to game speed shape. That is my only thing right now."

McClover adds that he believes he will be back in game shape quickly with some hard work. "Whenever you do more than you set out to do it is always good and I need some extra running," he explains. "I missed like two and a half weeks. I know it's going to be hard to get back into shape at first, but I will be ready next weekend."

The Tigers, who took Saturday off from practice, will be back on Sunday evening continuing preparations for Saturday night's season opener vs. Georgia Tech.

The talented defender, who racked up 7.5 sacks in 2004 and was named a freshman All-American, notes that is was not easy for him to stay out of action for so long. "It was real tough," he says. "It's almost like watching your little brother and sister play and you can't go out there and play with them. It is hard when you are such a vocal leader and such a spiritual person within the team.

"I didn't want to come out here too early and make myself play and hurt myself even worse so I just had to take my time and wait," he adds. "Now, I am just glad to be back with my team."

Stanley McClover was a reserve last year, but is expected to be a starter in 2005.

"The Predator," as he is known to fans and some of his teammates, also notes that it is not only mentally tough to be out for that long, but it also takes a toll physically.

"It takes a lot away from you," McClover explains. "You come out being a little rusty and tired so you are fighting against being tired and rusty. It really turns into a mental thing. You know you have just got to remember your plays and remember your keys. It is pretty hard, but a strong person can fight through it. So, I have been just going out there and fighting through it."

He says that even though he was out for such a long period of time, he was proud of the way his teammates continued to work hard and improve during his absence. "Everybody is so used to me being out there, making a lot of noise and keeping the life in practice, but we overcame it and the defense held it down in two-a-days," he notes. "They didn't miss a beat and I am glad to see that they kept it going so now I can get back out here and help."

McClover puts the head on LSU QB Jamarcus Russell last season.

He also says that helping his defensive teammates become a better unit in 2005 is the biggest thing he would like to accomplish in his second year of game action.

"My goal is just to help out the defense as much as I can," McClover says. "Whatever my assignments are I am just going to try and do them to the best of my ability. Also, hopefully I want to become a better leader on the defense and let my boys know that they can depend on me when it is rough. On those third and eights when it is a big play I want them to know that I am going to step up and I am going to be there."

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