Linebacker McClarin man in motion for Navy

His all-out approach draws raves from defensive coach

College Football

September 22, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The mere mention of the name creases the face of Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green with an ear-to-ear grin.

Bobby McClarin.

"Just the way he plays the game makes you smile," Green said. "He wants to win so badly and he's into the game from practice Monday until the final whistle Saturday. If you know football, you really like guys who fly around at 100 miles an hour. Bobby's full speed all the time."

The senior linebacker is undaunted by anything and anyone. He flew around part of last season with his left hand covered by a cumbersome wrap to protect a break he suffered during preseason workouts and aggravated against VMI. A mere fractured hand wasn't going to stop McClarin.

He did miss three games before returning with the conspicuous addition of what the team called "The Club."

The wrap became so notable around the Yard that a sandwich was named after McClarin at Dahlgren Hall, which houses the campus delicatessen. Appropriately, it is dubbed the Bobby Mac Club.

"It's a pretty spicy sandwich," said McClarin, who grew up in Bethlehem, Pa. "Roast beef, cheese, some hot mustard, hot peppers. A lady who works at Dahlgren knew Coach Green and they came up with it."

There should be nothing bland about an item named after McClarin, whose all-out hustle often produces spectacular results.

In Navy's hallmark victory over Air Force that led to the recapture of the Commander in Chief's Trophy last season, McClarin knocked down a key pass to prevent a Falcons touchdown. He considers that the highlight play of his career.

More recently, he tackled Tulsa quarterback James Kilian for a 1-yard loss on fourth down at the Navy 2 as the Golden Hurricane threatened to score a tying touchdown in the second quarter. On the previous play, McClarin had also had a part in stopping Kilian short of the goal line. Tulsa never recovered and was blanked, 29-0, as Navy improved to 3-0.

"The best thing in that game is we didn't give up any points," McClarin said. "But we can always get better. We have to as a unit. The minute you feel satisfied, you're in trouble."

If the coaching staff detects a Midshipman defender not giving his all on a given play, the culprit is saddled with a "loaf" and must put in extra physical exertion after practice. McClarin seldom is so penalized.

"On the grade sheet, it's hard to find a loaf anywhere for him," Green said. "Young guys can grow by following his example. He'll sacrifice his body to make a play. He loves contact, tackles well and plays exactly like you want a linebacker to. And studies tape a lot. He's the way you want them all to be."

"You'd better be running to the ball until the whistle blows," added McClarin, who was troubled by an ankle injury during preseason drills, but hasn't missed a beat.

He is tied for second on the team with 24 tackles behind fellow linebacker Lane Jackson. He may be first in inspiration.

"He's got so much intensity," Green said. "But he's also mature. Earlier, that intensity would get him out of place a lot. Now, he's always where he's supposed to be."

Next for Navy

Matchup: Vanderbilt (0-2) vs. Navy (3-0)

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line: Navy by 8

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