First, Maurice's size just jumps right out at you. He's a high school running back (amongst other things) that stands a reported 6'2" and he weighs almost 220 lbs. Stop right there. That just has most fans drooling at the thought of what his potential is, because he's already got the size. Yes, strength may be an issue, but you can't say enough for the frame to build on and Maurice as a near-perfect one at that.
Add to that the fact that Maurice has some great initial speed to go with that, his coach (Jim Buonocore) stating that they clocked Maurice running a 4.5/40 during Spring football practice.
Speaking of his coach, going into his 5th year as a head coach, Maurice stands supreme as players he has had go through his program. "He's the most talented player I have coached in my young career." coach Buonocore stated. "He can simply do it all, on both sides."
The other side of the ball that we can assume is where Maurice will end up at Nebraska seems to reflect Maurice's ability to the same degree as the offensive side. At the free-safety position, he had one purpose, that purpose he succeeded at quite well. "We pushed him to that (the defensive side) side of the ball, because he stops all big plays from happening." Buonocore stated. "He sticks his nose in there, runs the alley well and is the best tackling defensive player I have seen at the high school level."
Maurice's accomplishments are not simply a product of fundamentals, but a tenacity as well as coach Buonocore described his ferocity and why he's not allowed to hit his own guys during practice. "He lays the wood." Buonocore stated. "We keep him out of our tackling circuit, because I don't want him hitting our guys, because he's just that physical."
"He just brings it."
And he'll be "bringing it" to Nebraska. It doesn't seem odd that when you hear about a young man who grew up loving Nebraska, because his dad loved Nebraska and because it was a family tradition, it seemed almost inevitable more than probable that he would one day dawn the Scarlet and Cream.
What is odd about that is when that tradition is born in Connecticut, a state not known for it's avid Husker following, the last recruit coming from Connecticut, LB, Tony Ortiz.
East coast or not though, Maurice might as well have been a Nebraska native, because this trip was seemingly a fated one he would make. "My dad has always been a Nebraska fan." Maurice said. "He was a running back in college and he followed Nebraska, because they have always had good running backs there."
As you read above, Maurice's affinity isn't restricted to just the running back position, but having posted two games last year where he ran for over 230 yards, scoring 5 touchdowns in one of those contests, he's good to say the least. That combined with his receiving prowess, scoring touchdowns on kickoff returns and just about everything else, there's little wonder why NU wanted him all the way back in May.
Maurice reported that he actually committed apprx. 3 days after the offered was extended to him during May evaluations. "I was like ‘wow, are you serious? This isn't happening.'." Maurice said. "I know my dad was psyched after I committed. I have never seen him so happy."
Maurice's dad's happiness is not exclusive as you might think, because Maurice isn't exactly somber over the whole deal. He's happy to get it all out in the open though as now, he can look to this up-coming season, his final year one he plans on making special. There will be obstacles though, like every single team keying specifically on him, because he's Stonington's best player and yes, he's Maurice McClellan. "I know everyone is going to want to stop me." Maurice said. "That just means I have to play harder and try harder."
The added pressure of everyone looking at him as the person they have to stop hasn't dwindled his expectations of himself this year. In fact, this goals have gone up, exponentially, maybe, dramatically to be sure. "I want to run for 2,000 yards, get 100 tackles at least and score 30 touchdowns." McClellan stated.
For any great player or any prolific player for that matter, there is this deep-seeded drive that gets them up in the mornings, working out perhaps twice a day and come game-time, they are fanatical about the game and position they play.
There is no "die" only "do" in their vocabulary and what coach Buonocore stated about McClellan's ferocity, Maurice reiterated in saying that when you get on that field, it's a whole different state of mind. "Off the field, I am pretty laid-back and I'm just a happy guy." Maurice said. "When you get on the football field, the battle-field I call it, that's when there's nothing but the other team and you do whatever you can do beat them."
With his decision out of the way, Maurice feels a little freedom to "just" concentrate on his high school career, but there is the added pressure that he knows he's not just Maurice McClellan now taking the field, he's Maurice McClellan, future Nebraska Cornhusker, something he says motivates him to play even harder this time around. "I have to take that field and show everyone that they (Nebraska) didn't get pick no chump to offer a scholarship to." he said.
While I am sure that many terms will be spread around when talking about McClellan now and throughout this year, I am pretty sure "chump" not be one of them.
From a fan standpoint here in the Husker state, McClellan is a new name. As each fan has gotten a little more familiar with his numbers, measurements and attitude, it's a name they have warmed to for obvious reasons. It's ironic though and not to beat a dead horse on this, but Maurice is a new name to Nebraska fans, but to Maurice, Nebraska has been a name he's known all along. Because of his dad and throughout his following NU, Nebraska wasn't his choice, it was his destiny. Now, he's just ready to move on.
"Being able to go there, finally after all those years, it's like it's finally here and now, I just can't wait to play."
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619