Offensive coordinator Matt Canada raved about his redshirt freshman quarterback.
"Jalan is unbelievably blessed with talent," said Canada. "He's very talented. He's also a great kid. He's smart... he has a lot of really good things.
"I'm excited he gets to sit with Jacoby [Brissett] and learn. They have a good relationship."
Canada pointed out that the staff were lucky to keep McClendon out of the rotation last year, enabling him to redshirt.
"Well, we tried to save him last year," Canada stated. "He got some reps [in fall practice], and we were very fortunate to keep the redshirt on him. It's great knowing that he will have four years left. He'll get a lot of reps this spring."
In fact, the staff's confidence in McClendon could allow them to take the reins off Jacoby Brissett and use his ability to make plays as a runner in the ground game. Brissett finished the season as the team's third-leading rusher (529 yards, three touchdowns), and he had a breakout performance against North Carolina (167 yards, one touchdown) that had some asking why wasn't his number called more.
While Canada admitted that they will run Brissett more this season, he acknowledged that you still have to be smart about it.
"I think we can, but you still have to protect him," he said. "Is it part of the package? It is. We knew that... after that [UNC] game it was, 'Why didn't we do it more?' We didn't do it more because we didn't want him taking those big hits.
"If you remember in the bowl game he should have ran it sooner, and he got rocked... just laid there. There's a place to do it, we're going to do it, and he likes to do it, and obviously having Jalan come along to where he's at... there's truth to that."
Did Canada know Brissett could run as well as he showed last season?
"Probably not," he said, laughing. "We could see in practice that he could run, but it's dead when the whistle blows... we don't hit our quarterbacks.
"His ability to make a defender miss is unique. A lot of quarterbacks can't do that. Whatever that move is, they don't tackle him. It's pretty good, and he likes to run.
"But, we're not going to run him in the ground. After that one hit [against UCF], he finally admitted to me that there's certain hits he can't take."