McClain had the offers. He had other choices besides Rutgers. And with suitors from other big name programs, McClain had to be sold on a dream. On the possibility that an eventual accomplishment would be realized - one that Rutgers had not realized in nearly three decades.
"When I was talking to Coach Schiano, he persuaded me [to come to Rutgers] and he told me that we were going to a bowl game my first year here," stated McClain.
That would be, in case you're keeping track, 2005.
"And I believed him and I knew that with this incoming class we'd be able to do it. I knew that this team was on its way to eventually winning a national championship and that's what we're on our way to doing starting here," continued McClain.
The excitement is still building in Arizona, but it's already bursting back home.
"Everybody is excited back home. Normally for my games I have about 20-25 people coming so they're all going to be coming to the house and they are all excited."
"It's so exciting, especially back home because they [i.e., family] believed in me from the very beginning. Everybody is happy that this is happening and that it's a reality and not just a vision."
"There is going to be a huge party back home. Everybody is going to be watching. Parents and coaches - my mom, she called everybody, my girlfriend's family, all my friends. There will probably be about 100 people coming into the house. All Rutgers fans. And they all wish they could be here in Arizona. They'll all be here in spirit."
McClain's dream now reality it's easy to see that the Fr. OL is having the time of his life. "We went to the Suns game last night [Friday night]. This place was just great. And the fans were great. It just showed me that the state of Arizona is really behind everything that they do here."
"This is probably one of the more beautiful places I've ever seen in my life."
The importance of the 2005 class cannot be overstated simply because there will never be another like it. The 2005 class has instilled the budding energy that is bred with success.
They were the last to truly take a chance on Rutgers. Unlike the graduating seniors the 2005 class will be here three and four years down the road, to tell the tales of how it was to win the first time - they will be the last link to what was before the RU program took off.
And that's what makes guys like McClain - the truly last of his kind - special. And as McClain sees it, it is what makes the senior leadership on this squad worthy. Lessons learned from one to another, are lessons to be passed on to future teammates.
"They [senior leadership] set the example. When I first got here, I looked to them to see what they're doing, where they're going. I see what they are doing and what they're not doing and that sets an example for me."
And down the road, when this RU program will have taken the next step, it will be McClain's turn to be the teacher to his pupils. And lessons learned will be handed down the line.
This trip will be one to remember because it was the first. Every bit of experience unlike all the others.
"We walk in the resort and you turn left and there's this huge pool with palm trees in the middle of the resort with chairs laying out for us. You walk in the room and you've got bowl gifts laying on the bed and jackets and other things there for us. We're treated like kings," said McClain, nearly as much overjoyed talking about his experience as he was experiencing it.
"It's something I never even dreamed of and it really puts everything in perspective. With me being a freshman and now knowing what it's like, these next four or five years it just makes me want to work for it that much harder."
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