Mean streak

McDonogh offensive tackle Lane Clelland brings sensational skills and a steely disposition

Varsity -- Fall Preview

Football

August 29, 2007|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN REPORTER

McDonogh coach Dom Damico said that senior tackle Lane Clelland "has the perfect body for a lineman: tall, long and strong." And "he has a mean streak," Damico added.

"I know what he means by mean streak," said Clelland, who is 6 feet 5 and 270 pounds. "When I'm pass-blocking and I feel someone off balance, I'm like a shark who smells blood. And when I do, I want to drive my man into the ground."

Opposing coaches, like Loyola's Brian Abbott, have noticed.

"Lane is the best offensive lineman we saw last year, " he said. "Lane is quick and has great feet, and he's got a little nasty to him."

Clelland's spirited play caught the attention of college recruiters, as well. The state's higest-rated lineman and No. 3 player overall by Rivals.com, Clelland had 20 scholarship offers and has committed to Notre Dame.

Damico knows Clelland well because the McDonogh star has been hanging around Eagles practices since he was 6. Clelland, the youngest of five children, grew up watching his older brother and mentor Lance play for McDonogh.

"Lance has really helped me a lot, taking me to camps, teaching me technique and always being there for me," Clelland said.

Lance Clelland was an All-Metro lineman at McDonogh in 1996. He went on to play at Northwestern and had been an assistant at McDonogh, coaching his brother until this season, when he was hired as an assistant at Dartmouth.

"The Clellands are the two best linemen we have had in my time at McDonogh, " said Damico, who is starting his 14th season. "But Lane may be a little notch above."

Rivals.com gives Lane Clelland a 5.9 rating and No. 16 position ranking nationally. The 5.9 falls under the top ranking of 6.1, which equates to an "elite prospect deemed to have pro potential."

Clelland, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, has been on the McDonogh varsity team since his freshman year and a full-time starter the past three years.

"Lane will never see a day on defense at Notre Dame," Damico said. "He will be their left tackle one day. He has great technique and looks like a college player already."

Clelland's long-term goal is to play in the NFL.

"I first want to win [a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association] A Conference football title outright, and then win a state wrestling championship," said Clelland, whose team was a tri-champion in football last year with Gilman and Loyola, and he was an A Conference heavyweight runner-up on the mat. "Obviously I want to start at Notre Dame and win a national championship and get a chance to play in the NFL."

No doubt playing at South Bend, Ind., enhances the chances to turn pro, but choosing a college wasn't easy. After visiting Notre Dame, Clelland said he didn't want to rush into a decision, but after frequent phone conversations with Irish offensive line coach John Latina, he made up his mind.

"My two brothers, Lance and Lou, drove me to visit Michigan last spring, and we left there for Notre Dame," Clelland said. "The two schools are total opposites. But I was really impressed with the Notre Dame coaching staff of coach Charlie Weis. You can tell Coach Weis doesn't take any [nonsense] and I appreciate that. My mom has been a strong influence on discipline. She is a strong woman and keeps us all in line. I like that.

"I was convinced that Notre Dame would be a good fit for me and I felt the education would be a little better than most places, " added Clelland, who has a 2.6 grade-point-average. "I have to work hard in school and am willing to do that. I will pursue business and maybe a double-major with English. "

Clelland considers himself a "very dedicated" person to the important things in his life, such as church, family, education and sports.

"We have a big family that lives in Reisterstown and we like to spend a lot of time together, " he said.

As for that mean streak, the well-mannered Clelland reserves that strictly for the football field.

pat.omalley@baltsun.com

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