During the time that former Maryland assistant coach Greg Gattusso was trying to bring Justin Falcinelli (Clemson) and Ricky Leonard (Florida State) from Middletown High School (Middletown, Md.) to Maryland, he also developed a solid bond with junior offensive lineman Will McClain. While the two seniors took center stage with most college coaches, the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder had superior qualities as well.
"Coach Gattusso would talk with me about every week," said McClain. "I mean, we talked about everything, not just football. He liked how I played and he told me that he thought that Maryland would be ready to offer me soon."
In December, Gattusso left College Park, Md., for a head coaching job at Albany, leaving McClain out of touch with the Terps until recently. When Greg Studrawa joined the Terps' staff, he inherited the Frederick recruiting area and will likely try to reestablish the relationship McClain had with Gattusso.
"I talked to him once when I saw him in the hallway out school a few weeks ago," McClain said. "I think he's just trying to figure out who I am right now. I'm sure that he'll start talking to me pretty soon."
In the meantime, West Virginia was the first to pull the trigger on an offer -- and so the process begins for McClain. "I camped up there last summer and I hoped that they would give me an offer," McClain said. "The coaches there liked me and said they'd be looking at me."
After evaluations, Mountaineer's head coach Dana Holgerson eventually made the offer through Middletown head coach Kevin Lynott in early February.
"Coach pulled me into his office around one o'clock and there were a couple of other coaches there and he told me about the offer," said McClain. "I was so happy that I was at a loss for words."
By no means are the Terps out of the running for McClain, however. He's been in College Park for games and visits before and had high praise for Randy Edsall's program.
"No way am I ready to count anybody out yet," said McClain. "I mean it's way too early and I have no preferences right now. I'm just trying to figure this thing out right now. I like Maryland too, and I know I'll be making some visits down there for games and to meet the coaches. It's just that, right now, I have to get to know the new coach recruiting me."
The past two seasons, while learning to be an elite offensive tackle, McClain also did a lot of watching how Falcinelli and Leonard handled dealing with college coaches and the media.
"They both told me to stay humble and to not get a big head," McClain said. "I can tell you that I'm starting to be confused on how this thing really works, but I know I'll always be able to talk to those guys and my coach too."
Besides the Terps and West Virginia, McClain is getting letters from various schools like Temple, Rutgers and Old Dominion. "Sure, it's exciting but I know that the major schools will be hitting me up soon, and it will hard to keep things in perspective," he said. "I don't have any favorites, but I'm hoping that I get some interest from Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Those are the schools that I get to see a lot on TV around here. But, right now, I have no plans on making visits to those schools."
McClain will be trekking to Morgantown, W.Va., next week for a junior day experience. After that Feb. 22 trip, he doesn't have any definitive plans.
On the field, McClain was a factor in Middletown winning their fourth Maryland State class 2A football championship last year.
"I didn't play much defense but that will change this year," he said. "Right now, everybody likes me as an offensive tackle but we'll see how things change, if they do at all."
Middletown ramped up their winter strength and conditioning program in mid-January, but, to date, McClain has been focusing more on basketball.
"I lift and run four days a week with football but basketball is in full gear right now," he said. "I don't play a whole lot but I do mix things up in the paint. Nobody looks for me to score baskets. I'm just in there for the muscle."
Expect things to change in a hurry once colleges open up spring practice in a few weeks. When the Terps kick things off March 1, the staff will likely try to get McClain on campus.
The Middletown tackle will probably take them up on that offer as he had plenty of positive comments about Maryland's academics, Big Ten move and program in general.
In the classroom McClain said he's carrying a 3.2 GPA and took the SAT in January. He said his scores come in in mid-February.
"I want to make sure I'm good and to not have to worry about that stuff," McClain said.
Once McClain, who isn't a household name in recruiting circles just yet, qualifies, expect the college interest to ramp up -- just like former teammates Falcinelli and Leonard.
Middletown's McClain Becoming Hot Commodity
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