MIDDLETOWN, Md. -- Maryland secured a commitment from Middletown (Md.) offensive tackle Will McClain June 24, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Kevin Lynott, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-5.5, 290-pounder.
Here's our Q&A session with Lynott:
Terrapin Times:First of all coach, just wanted to get your thoughts on sending a kid to Maryland. I mean, I know Will was pretty high on West Virginia…
Kevin Lynott: Well, I think he made an awesome choice. He narrowed it down to two schools, and he couldn't have gone wrong with either one. But Maryland being the hometown team and the proximity to home, and most importantly Coach [Randy] Edsall's vision and leadership kind of put it together right there. And then the coaching staff as a whole, as far as how they carry out that vision and their character, I think that's why Will gravitated to Maryland.
TT:Oftentimes it's the school that gets the last visit that lands the recruit, though. And I know WVU got that last visit before Will announced a week later. Was there some questions he had about WVU when he returned, some hesitations he had about that program?
KL: I know he had a great time at West Virginia, and his whole experience there, he came back with all positives. I think the thing that probably pulled him to pick Maryland is living in the state, the proximity and the staff. I mean, the Maryland coaches really did a phenomenal job recruiting him and stressing how much they want local players to play for Maryland. The whole staff made that clear.
And Maryland's staff did an excellent job of staying in contact with us as high school coaches and the recruits. That means a lot when coaches are spending a lot of time and attention and really back up what their message is. It's pretty cool what Maryland is doing now.
TT:After watching two of your kids last year in Justin Falcinelli and Ricky Leonard opt for other programs, what did it mean to you to see a player Maryland's way? I think Will is the first one from Middletown to commit to the Terps…
KL: Yeah, he is, and I'll tell you, it's pretty cool. We're very proud to have one of our players represent our state. That's something special. Nothing against schools from other states, but it's something special to have a kid represent the hometown university.
TT:Since Coach Edsall has been at Maryland, have you seen an uptick in Terps' coaches' presence at Middletown and in Frederick County?
KL: Well, at Middletown I think the fact we've had more Division I guys of late has really increased the traffic. And Maryland has always stopped by, but since Coach Edsall has taken charge, every opportunity within the rules, they're there. If they can visit twice in that April to May contact period, they're there twice. And they don't just stop by quick. They take time, build up the relationships and really get everyone on the same page with their vision and what they want to do with it.
It's pretty cool. I think what we do in Frederick County will mesh well with the type of player Maryland wants.
TT:Can you talk about the relationship Will and you guys had with Greg Studrawa? I know he's new up there this year…
KL: First of all, he brings a lot of experience as an offensive line coach. I know Coach Stud spent a lot of time at LSU and other schools and had a lot of success. I think his experience, plus his demeanor and personality is something special. He has a lot of passion about the offensive line and a lot of passion about life, and I think that was a big factor with Will. The man recruiting him was his offensive line coach, and that relationship, and seeing Coach Stud coach down there when Will visited, it really hit home. It was something special.
TT:Did you have an inkling Will was tending towards Maryland? Or were you surprised like everyone else?
KL: Yeah, I was surprised. Will and his family kept it neutral and close to the vest by design so they could make the best decision. I never really got a leaning one way or the other. We knew Maryland or West Virginia, but that's it.
And I'll tell you what, it was a very difficult decision. West Virginia did a great job recruiting him as well, and Coach [Lonnie] Galloway couldn't have been any better. Our program felt honored the way Coach Galloway treated us and respected us, and he really did a good job. So Will had a very difficult decision to make because both schools were awesome.
But all throughout, Will kept it close to the vest. So I was definitely surprised at the final decision. I was happy and I thought any choice he made would've been a great one, but I didn't have an inside track until the day he called Coach Edsall up.
TT:I wanted to get back to Frederick County for a second. You know last year sending Ricky Leonard and Justin Falcinelli to other schools, and then Linganore sending a few kids to Wisconsin, Penn State… it seemed like kids were venturing away from College Park. But now with Will and E.J. Donahue from Linganore on board with the Terps, do you think the trend will start going in the other direction?
KL: Yeah, I do. I think with Maryland's schedule changing, their conference changing, that's really something to sell kids up here. Moving to the Big Ten, raising the level of expectations and competition, I think kids think that's pretty cool. Knowing Maryland will be playing Ohio State, Penn State, that's appealing to a recruit. Number two, 50 percent of the games family and friends can easily come, and some of the away games aren't far either, and that's going to attract more kids from around here as well.
TT:As far as Will is concerned, what does he bring physically? Where does he excel?
KL: I think Will is a very good athlete for his size. He explodes off the ball well, and he keeps his pads low, and that's very unique for a guy that big. A lot of high school linemen don't want to come off too hard and they end up standing up, especially the bigger guys. Will is coming off like he's a skinny guy and he's staying low, and that's special.
I think the run blocking will be a big thing for him; he has that fierce, go-getters run blocking mentality. And the pass blocking, it's not that he's not good at it, he just isn't as experienced with it. As far as our needs and what we do – we're not the spread, two-point stance type of offense.
But most importantly, Will is high character. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone say something negative about Will McClain, and that's hard to find. I'm talking on and off the field, just being a good, clean high-character guy with a strong, strong work ethic.
TT:Oh yeah, I know all your Middletown guys live in that weight room…
KL: Of course. That's what's expected. Will is one of the leaders on the team, and he's been through that weight program we have for four years. He's always in there, he's always striving to get stronger and to get better. No one is ever going to question Will's work ethic.
TT: Is there one area, though, that Will needs to pick up physically to be ready for Big Ten ball?
KL: I have the mindset where you have to have the mentality if you're green you're growing and if you're ripe you're rotten. I think every day, every year you have to improve. I can't narrow it down to specifics. Every year he just has to step it up. Next year, it's his senior year, and he has to step it up. And then at Maryland, going to the Big Ten, that's a whole other level of competition he'll have to get used to. He'll have to step it up again when he gets there.
TT: When did you know Will could take his game to the FBS level?
KL: I think when he moved up to varsity his sophomore year in the playoffs. He was backing up Justin Falcinelli and going against Justin one-on-one in drills. Will was hanging with Justin, and we realized that [McClain] could be quite a player. Then last year it was confirmed when we had Ricky, Justin and Will, and all three were competing against each other and all were on the same level. I think that helps when you have other guys being recruited, and they're going against other top guys and holding their own. So Will's ability to hang at that level of play, that's when I knew.
TT: Last question, Coach. Will projects as a right tackle at Maryland. Is that where you see him fitting in? Does he have that right tackle's mauler's mentality?
KL: I do see him fitting at right tackle. Ultimately it will be up to Coach Stud and Coach Edsall to figure that out, but I really think Maryland got a guy who can play all three line positions – guard, center and tackle. He's that athletic.
I'll tell you a story: When Will got moved up as a sophomore, he went against our first-team defense and lined up at tight end. Will was running these really tight patterns, getting down the field and laying out for catches. So you get a kid like that, don't tell me he can't play guard. He can run, pull around end… And he's a basketball player too and runs up and down the court. He's very, very agile.
I think Maryland is going to put him at tackle, but I think they got a guy who is pretty versatile and can play anywhere.
Coach Speak: Kevin Lynott on Will McClain
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