What was your initial reaction to being drafted by the Raiders?
For the most part, I was at a loss for words. It's crazy. All the hard work I've put in out of the past 20 years has finally paid off.
Did you have much contact with them before today, and if so, did you get an idea that they were that strongly interested in you?
I had no idea really that the Raiders were that interested. They came down last week and talked with me, but I don't know. They weren't like the other teams that I thought were interested in me and actually brought me in for visits, and I don't know. It was just a different vibe, but when I came out last week, I felt pretty strong that they wanted me. I just didn't know how bad they wanted me.
Who came out last week?
Linebacker coach (Mike Haluchak) and the DB coach (Lionel Washington). I worked out and just talked with them.
Have you talked to Al Davis at all? Either before or after?
No, I haven't talked to Mr. Davis. I'm looking forward to talk to him actually.
What message did Coach Cable give you?
He didn't really give me a message. He just asked me if I'm ready to play football and if I'm ready to play linebacker with the Oakland Raiders, and I said, "yes." He asked me if I could lead his defense, I said, "of course I can." He just had a couple questions. He just asked me, "Are you ready to be a Raider," and I told him yeah, and he told me they were going to draft me.
What can you and what will you bring to this defense?
Just my intensity. Not just as a football player, but as a leader, a teammate, and a friend to these guys. I'm accustomed to winning, and just get ready to get back the way we used to win. I think Coach Cable, as well as myself and a lot of these other guys, are going to turn this thing around and we're going to get back to winning, get back to the playoffs, and get back to playing good football.
A lot of rookies come in and just take their time getting to learn everybody, and they kind of let the veterans take over, but Coach Cable had talked about you being a guy who really takes control of a defense, gathers his teammates together for film study. Will that be a problem for you in the NFL? Coming in and asserting yourself in your rookie year?
No, that's just my personality. My personality as far as meeting guys, I'm not the most outgoing guy. I'm shy and I stay to myself. But when it comes to football, my job, something that I love doing, I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. If I got to go out and yell at a guy during practice just to get everybody huddled up, or just get everybody together because we're on the same page on defense to watch film. I do what I have to do in order for the defense as well as the team to have success. It's something that I don't mind doing, something I'm looking forward to do. But I don't think I'll have too much trouble. I know the rest of my teammates are ready to get back to winning. We're going to start one. I think everyone is just eager to meet and play football and get ready for the season.
This team has struggled against the run for a long time. Did you know that? Do you follow the NFL enough to know that? And do you think, as one person, you can have an impact on that?
I haven't really followed the Raiders too much so I don't know much success they've against the run. But I'm sure Coach Cable has great things in his mind. Me, personally, I'm going to do my job. Coach Saban has washed off on me a little bit. He prides himself on stopping the run and I pride myself on stopping the run, so I think some of those veteran defensive linemen, and linebackers, and everybody, including me, I think we're all going to do what we have to do to stop the run, and make this defense get there.
Can you clarify the Crohn's disease? There was a lot of talk about it, and there were reports that you didn't have it.
Well, basically, when I was in the 9th grade, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. But after being to the hospital the past three weeks and getting several tests done, my doctors at the University of Alabama don't even think I have Crohn's disease. I never have been affected, it's never affected my play in practice or in a game, so I'm not sure. I don't think there's really a test that you can take to see if you have Crohn's disease. I just feel that God has blessed me at this point. He's been looking over me, and I can do is pray that He continues to do the same thing.
How long have you been in a linebacker? When did you first play the position and decide that was the position for you?
I started playing linebacker my 9th grade year in high school, and since then I've been playing. I started out as an outside linebacker up until my senior year, everybody was running the ball away from me. I can make a lot of plays running people down, so they put me in the middle where I can go both ways, and since my senior year in high school, I've been playing middle linebacker. I've been accustomed to the job and I think I've been doing pretty good at it.
What do you like about playing linebacker?
Linebacker. You get to hit somebody every play. That's the best part. That sums it up. You get to hit somebody every play. Middle linebacker, you're like the quarterback of the defense, so you have control. I like to be in control, as far as lining everybody up and getting everybody going. I like that. I embrace that role.
Do you see yourself as a three down linebacker in the NFL? Is it possible people have underestimated your pass coverage?
I'll be serious. I have never come off the field in my collegiate year at the University of Alabama. No matter what it was. 3rd and 15, 16, I've never come off the field. I've guard the best of running backs, the best of slot receivers, the best receivers. I've guarded many men. We don't play with zone at the University of Alabama, so I've done a lot of good coverage in my time, and I've played against a lot of good guys from the SEC, but now NFL players. Now, I know I can do it and I'm sure coach feels the same way.
We've heard stories about you and your ability watch film and analyze things. Do you watch film early in the morning or late at night? What's your time to watch film and what do you look for?
If we're going to talk about film, I give 95% of the credit to Coach Saban. He showed me what to watch and how to watch film. My thing is get away to the day, before practice, and I'll watch film. I look for particular things, and I have sort of an order to how I watch film and what I look for, but I'm not going to tell you exactly what it is.
How do you think Coach Saban has prepared you for life in the NFL?
I give all the credit to Coach Saban for me being where I am. Obviously, God and my family, but Coach Saban has made me into the player that I am now. Not just being able to watch film, but told me how to tackle, told me how to read things, told me how to take on linemen. He did all those things. Not only did he teach me how to be a football player, but he's a great role for me and a father figure. He's made me the person I am today.
Have you talked to him since you were drafted?
Yeah, he sent me a text message saying congratulations. I'm all the way in Decatur. I think I'll go back to Tuscaloosa by tomorrow and I'll go see him then.
McClain Speaks with Media
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