Canada: "I'm Really Excited About Him"

NC State offensive coordinator Matt Canada talks about 2014 quarterback signee Jalan McClendon in this exclusive interview.

One of the jewels of the Wolfpack's 2014 class was Charlotte (NC) West Mecklenburg quarterback Jalan McClendon. NC State held off a late push by Tennessee to secure McClendon to land their quarterback of the future.

In 2013, McClendon helped lead the Hawks to a 9-3 record, throwing for roughly 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns along the way. His senior season culminated with invitations to the Shrine Bowl and International Bowl.

One person that is certainly ecstatic about State's addition at quarterback is Wolfpack offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Pack Pride talked with him about McClendon and the attributes that the NC State coaching staff liked during the evaluation process.

"I certainly like Jalan's strong arm," said Canada. "He has the ability to make all the throws. I enjoyed that. I had a chance to get to know him. I liked his character and knowledge of the game.

"Talking to his coach, Jalan is a very good leader. He's continued to grow and improve and I'm really excited about him. I think he's a guy that can make an impact in our program."

Last season NC State struggled to find a balance between pro-style quarterback Pete Thomas and the more run-oriented Brandon Mitchell. There shouldn't be a need for differing game plans in 2014 as the Pack will turn to Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett and his likely backup, Jalan McClendon. Both have similar skill sets and those attributes should mesh well in Canada's spread offense.

"You're always trying to find yourself the best players. We wanted to find the best quarterback that was accurate, who could move a little bit, make the throws but there are some similarities there in that they both have big arms, and they're both athletic enough that they can run around and get a first down with their feet."

While McClendon is athletic enough, he's not a run-first quarterback. Instead, he gives the Pack a player that can extend plays and occasionally pick up first downs with his feet. That's something that Canada feels is extremely important in the Wolfpack's offense.

"Obviously we want a quarterback that's a winner, a leader, who's accurate on third and five and can get a first down. And then obviously can get a first down with his feet, extending the plays.

"Those are the things that are important. You look at the guys in the league and they're are all different players with different talents and you look at a guy like Andrew Luck, he can get a first down with his feet. He's a big, strong armed guy but he can extend the play and that's something we're looking for always."

McClendon had a huge growth spurt in high school which really helped propel him up the wishlists of numerous college coaches. While his accomplishments thus far have been impressive, there still appears to be quite a bit of upside. Canada said he's looking forward to helping bring out the best in McClendon over the coming years.

"Everyone's untapped that way so you really don't know until you get them in here and get to coach them. But coach mentioned how much he's grown and he's a pretty smooth looking guy considering that growth so I'm excited to coach him and just, every guy gets better from year to year and he'll be the same.

"He has a great desire to get better, great desire to learn and just one of those guys with a great personality."


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