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McClain ready to contribute for Tide
Decatur all-star wants to
put on show for coaches

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com · 340-2463

MOBILE — It's no secret these days that Rolando McClain has big plans.

The former Decatur High standout signed a scholarship to play football at Alabama beginning this fall.

And though it's hard for true freshmen to contribute these days, McClain thinks he can buck the trend. He has said so himself.

Well, there's no better time to serve notice that he's serious than Saturday night when McClain will play linebacker in the 20th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic at Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game begins at 7.

"You can prove to yourself, and maybe prove to your coaches, that everybody here is going to college, and if you stand out, you have a chance at being a great college athlete," McClain said.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker has never been short on confidence. His high school coach said that's something that should help in adjusting to first-year Alabama coach Nick Saban and his system.

"He's going to pick up on things pretty quickly," Decatur coach Jere Adcock said. "Their system is going to be overwhelming, but he's the type of kid who is going to put the effort into learning it."

In practice this week, McClain has impressed team head coach Bill Clark, who knows talent when he sees it.

He took Prattville to the Class 6A state title this past season.

While impressing Clark isn't a prerequisite, it certainly is a testament to how quickly the youngster can win over a coach.

"He's just such a gifted athlete," Clark said. "To be that big and run that well is impressive. He's intelligent, very well spoken. He does a job calling out the stuff."

McClain's credentials fit the bill of a standout.

He is a Parade All-American. He earned all-area, all-region and all-state honors his senior season.

Most impressively, though, is a school record he owns. According to his biography in the all-star game's media guide, McClain set a school mark with 24 tackles in a single game, including 21 solo stops.

"He's good, real good," said Alabama teammate and former Russellville standout offensive lineman Taz Tillery. "He's a huge linebacker, and he's fast. He's just an athlete. That's all you can say, really."

At this point, McClain is only trying to get bigger and faster. Since basketball ended with a Decatur loss in the state Class 5A semifinals, he has been working out under guidelines the Alabama coaching staff sent him.

"Just running and lifting and working on (my) individual skill positions," McClain said.

That means McClain hasn't had a whole lot of down time to let his body recuperate from last fall's football season. And with him reporting to Alabama on Sunday — the day after the all-star game — he won't get much time to rest.

But Adcock said that might be the best thing for McClain, who at times has been in the doghouse with his high school coach.

"I think he's ready to resettle and get himself in a situation that he can establish a new environment for himself," Adcock said.

He added, "This is a good thing for him. The sooner he makes the move, the better it is for him."

20th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic

  • What: High school football game featuring top seniors from Alabama and Mississippi.

  • Where: Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

  • When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

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