Steelers RB coach in awe of ... The Train

Word last season was that fullback Dan Kreider began wearing down physically. So the Steelers commenced a search for that vanishing breed: a crushing lead blocker. They think they found one. Read below for details.

Wex's Draft Series
  • Michael Bush
  • Daniel Sepulveda
  • Darrelle Revis
  • LaMarr Woodley
  • Lawrence Timmons
  • Chris Houston
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Ben Grubbs
  • Leon Hall
  • Adam Carriker
  • Jarvis Moss
  • Anthony Spencer
  • The Odds
  • New Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson has spoken … to Alabama fullback Le'Ron McClain.

    "He told me there's a rare breed of fullbacks in the league," said McClain. "And he feels like I'm a great one, the best one he's seen in a long time."

    Good eye for talent, that Coach Wilson, and it says the Steelers are sticking with their physical offensive approach because McClain is the best lead blocker in college football.

    The 6-0 1/8, 256-pounder started 13 games and carried only 11 times, but there's a reason he's being projected as high as a third-round pick in the upcoming draft:

    "As a fullback you've got to be aggressive," McClain said. "I take pride in my blocking and getting to the guy, you know, taking him on, every play, wearing him down that first, second and third quarter. By the fourth quarter they won't come anymore. Whoever makes contact first -- and I plan on doing that – always wins the battle."

    Don't mistake McClain for being just a blocker. While he only carried 11 times for 64 yards last season, he didn't have a negative carry and was third on the team with 20 catches for 175 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

    He was named Alabama's Offensive Player of the Week three times. He was also the fullback (personal protector) on the punt team and called out the protections and made the checks, and played in the middle of the kickoff return team.

    The Le'Ron Leap? McClain hurdles an Oklahoma State defender in the Independence Bowl. (Photo: Getty Images)
    McClain was one of Alabama's leaders last season, and was named captain in three games – Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn – in which the coaching staff obviously wanted to establish an attitude. McClain was a special-teams captain in three other games.

    At the combine, McClain said the teams that showed interest were Tampa Bay, Chicago, Detroit, San Diego, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh showed interest?

    "A lot," he said with a laugh. "The coach said he really liked my tape." McClain relayed what Wilson had said to him, and added, "I hope that pays off for him."

    McClain broke into the Alabama starting lineup the second half of his sophomore season, and then started nine games as a junior and every game as a senior. In his career he carried only 37 times for 170 yards (4.6 avg.) and two touchdowns as mainly a change-up for the offense. His main attributes are catching (48 receptions for 405 yards and eight touchdowns) and blocking.

    "I can do both," he said. "If you want me to go in there and lay the lumber to a linebacker, I'll do that. You want me to slip out in the flat and catch a pass, make a guy miss, get upfield, I'll do that. And I can pass block. When they bring them big linebackers off the edge, those little backs usually don't want to take them on. That's what I do good."

    But – and this is an important question with the Steelers – what does McClain enjoy best about playing fullback?

    "Blocking," he said. "Laying the law to a guy, man; just knowing that you got him, man. And then making a DB look crazy out there by making him miss when I catch the ball. And then pass pro, when they come in there and try to bull rush you, to stop them in their tread. Man, I feel good just doing my job. I'd say just doing my job and doing the right thing."

    Lay the law?

    "Yeah. Lay the law. Like a cop."

    McClain said his nickname at Alabama was "Train … El Train."

    Why didn't they call him Ron?

    "They just called me Train," he said.

    McClain grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is becoming something of a football proving ground for the Steelers. Veteran tackle Trai Essex is a Fort Wayne native, as is potential Steelers draft pick Anthony Spencer. And McClain knows well of Fort Wayne's most famous Steeler.

    "Rod Woodson's from Fort Wayne," McClain said. "He went to Snider High School. I went to Harding for a year then I moved to Alabama for the rest of my high-school career."

    At the combine, McClain ran a 4.88 40 and only did 14 reps. He also had a short vertical jump of 29.5 inches. Obviously, he's not a workout warrior, but there isn't a gauge at the combine to measure blocking will and leverage. As for his draft projection …

    "I want teams to look at me and say, ‘This guy's probably not going to be around the second day,"' he said. "I don't want to downgrade the other fullbacks coming out, but I feel in my heart, just being confident in what I do, that I'm the best at what I do. You can watch the film and see my quickness and me catching the ball and all that. I want to go first day. A few people tell me I will and a few people say they don't know yet."

    With 30-year-old fullback Dan Kreider entering the final year of his contract, the Steelers have their eye on McClain. If he slips to the fourth round, fullback's another luxury that they can afford thanks to those compensation picks.

    "I watch Pittsburgh all the time – last year when they won the championship and all that," he said. "I love their style of play."

    Obviously, the feeling's mutual.


    Steel City Insider Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
    \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
    \r\n Wex's Draft Series
    \r\n
  • Michael Bush
  • \r\n
  • Daniel Sepulveda
  • \r\n
  • Darrelle Revis
  • \r\n
  • LaMarr Woodley
  • \r\n
  • Lawrence Timmons
  • \r\n
  • Chris Houston
  • \r\n
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • \r\n
  • Ben Grubbs
  • \r\n
  • Leon Hall
  • \r\n
  • Adam Carriker
  • \r\n
  • Jarvis Moss
  • \r\n
  • Anthony Spencer
  • \r\n
  • The Odds
  • \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNew Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson has spoken … to Alabama fullback Le'Ron McClain. \r\n\r\n

    \"He told me there's a rare breed of fullbacks in the league,\" said McClain. \"And he feels like I'm a great one, the best one he's seen in a long time.\" \r\n\r\n

    Good eye for talent, that Coach Wilson, and it says the Steelers are sticking with their physical offensive approach because McClain is the best lead blocker in college football. \r\n\r\n

    The 6-0 1/8, 256-pounder started 13 games and carried only 11 times, but there's a reason he's being projected as high as a third-round pick in the upcoming draft: \r\n\r\n

    \"As a fullback you've got to be aggressive,\" McClain said. \"I take pride in my blocking and getting to the guy, you know, taking him on, every play, wearing him down that first, second and third quarter. By the fourth quarter they won't come anymore. Whoever makes contact first -- and I plan on doing that – always wins the battle.\" \r\n\r\n

    Don't mistake McClain for being just a blocker. While he only carried 11 times for 64 yards last season, he didn't have a negative carry and was third on the team with 20 catches for 175 yards and three receiving touchdowns. \r\n\r\n

    He was named Alabama's Offensive Player of the Week three times. He was also the fullback (personal protector) on the punt team and called out the protections and made the checks, and played in the middle of the kickoff return team. \r\n\r\n

    \r\n\r\n\r\n

    \r\n
    The Le'Ron Leap? McClain hurdles an Oklahoma State defender in the Independence Bowl. (Photo: Getty Images)
    \r\n\r\n\r\nMcClain was one of Alabama's leaders last season, and was named captain in three games – Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn – in which the coaching staff obviously wanted to establish an attitude. McClain was a special-teams captain in three other games. \r\n\r\n

    At the combine, McClain said the teams that showed interest were Tampa Bay, Chicago, Detroit, San Diego, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. \r\n\r\n

    Pittsburgh showed interest? \r\n\r\n

    \"A lot,\" he said with a laugh. \"The coach said he really liked my tape.\" \r\n\r\nMcClain relayed what Wilson had said to him, and added, \"I hope that pays off for him.\" \r\n\r\n

    McClain broke into the Alabama starting lineup the second half of his sophomore season, and then started nine games as a junior and every game as a senior. In his career he carried only 37 times for 170 yards (4.6 avg.) and two touchdowns as mainly a change-up for the offense. His main attributes are catching (48 receptions for 405 yards and eight touchdowns) and blocking. \r\n\r\n

    \"I can do both,\" he said. \"If you want me to go in there and lay the lumber to a linebacker, I'll do that. You want me to slip out in the flat and catch a pass, make a guy miss, get upfield, I'll do that. And I can pass block. When they bring them big linebackers off the edge, those little backs usually don't want to take them on. That's what I do good.\" \r\n\r\n

    But – and this is an important question with the Steelers – what does McClain enjoy best about playing fullback? \r\n\r\n

    \"Blocking,\" he said. \"Laying the law to a guy, man; just knowing that you got him, man. And then making a DB look crazy out there by making him miss when I catch the ball. And then pass pro, when they come in there and try to bull rush you, to stop them in their tread. Man, I feel good just doing my job. I'd say just doing my job and doing the right thing.\" \r\n\r\n

    Lay the law? \r\n\r\n

    \"Yeah. Lay the law. Like a cop.\" \r\n\r\n

    McClain said his nickname at Alabama was \"Train … El Train.\" \r\n\r\n

    Why didn't they call him Ron? \r\n\r\n

    \"They just called me Train,\" he said. \r\n\r\n

    McClain grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is becoming something of a football proving ground for the Steelers. Veteran tackle Trai Essex is a Fort Wayne native, as is potential Steelers draft pick Anthony Spencer. And McClain knows well of Fort Wayne's most famous Steeler. \r\n\r\n

    \"Rod Woodson's from Fort Wayne,\" McClain said. \"He went to Snider High School. I went to Harding for a year then I moved to Alabama for the rest of my high-school career.\" \r\n\r\n

    At the combine, McClain ran a 4.88 40 and only did 14 reps. He also had a short vertical jump of 29.5 inches. Obviously, he's not a workout warrior, but there isn't a gauge at the combine to measure blocking will and leverage. As for his draft projection … \r\n\r\n

    \"I want teams to look at me and say, ‘This guy's probably not going to be around the second day,\"' he said. \"I don't want to downgrade the other fullbacks coming out, but I feel in my heart, just being confident in what I do, that I'm the best at what I do. You can watch the film and see my quickness and me catching the ball and all that. I want to go first day. A few people tell me I will and a few people say they don't know yet.\" \r\n\r\n

    With 30-year-old fullback Dan Kreider entering the final year of his contract, the Steelers have their eye on McClain. If he slips to the fourth round, fullback's another luxury that they can afford thanks to those compensation picks. \r\n\r\n

    \"I watch Pittsburgh all the time – last year when they won the championship and all that,\" he said. \"I love their style of play.\" \r\n\r\n

    Obviously, the feeling's mutual. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n","skipOnMobile":true,"skipOnMobileReason":"UnsupportedHtmlTable","unsupportedMarkup":"LackingResponsiveTableClass","media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-03-27T10:47:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:415648]","mainImage":{"url":"[MEDIA:415648]"},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:415648]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"Draft","name":"Draft"},{"id":"589","name":"Alabama"},{"id":"10020","name":"Alabama - Football"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh Steelers"}],"nodes":["2442688","99","745","2111"],"isActive":true,"inActiveAndMemberHasPublishRights":false,"createdOn":"2007-03-27T10:58:11.47","createdById":"166721","modifiedOn":"2015-12-18T13:10:22.52","modifiedBy":"51458","imgs":[],"viewStats":[],"hasVideo":false,"brandUnsafe":false,"breakingNews":false},"editorsChoice":{"siteUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1704973-energy-bringers-badasses","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1701783-a-day-in-the-life?preview=true","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1644408-long-may-heath-run","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1626251-ups-and-downs-shazier-playcaller","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1614465-qa-peezy-deebo"],"networkUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/browns/story/1712163-gordon-to-enter-rehab-facility?s=143","http://www.scout.com/story/1712173-dez-bryant-on-mic-let-s-put-up-50","http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1711551-best-coaching-fit-lsu","http://www.scout.com/college/football/story/1711186-inside-the-matchup-stanford-vs-washington?s=147"],"topRibbonWidgets":[],"carouselStoryUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1712144-steelers-turn-hubbard","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711853-buzz-about-new-steelers-starters","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711542-all-22-review-steelers-eagles","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711135-craig-wolfleys-view-sideline","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1710728-notebook-sportswriter"],"storyStreamUrls":[],"storyStreamBlacklistUrls":[],"videoStories":[{"type":"StorySummary","containerType":"StorySummary","id":"1712144","siteId":"68","isPublicSite":true,"subdomain":"pit","canonicalUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1712144-steelers-turn-to-hubbard","shortUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1712144-steelers-turn-to-hubbard","siteName":"Steel City Insider","forumName":"","friendlySubdomain":"Pittsburgh","title":"Steelers Turn To Hubbard","subtitle":"","seotitle":"Yet another injury thins offensive line","caption":"","deck":"Practice injury to B.J. 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