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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keegan

Ex-KU lineman James McClinton faithful

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Teammates who fed off his energy, admired his spirituality and loved his humor, used to be fond of saying James McClinton “would play on Sundays,” meaning in the NFL.

Nearly four years later, McClinton hasn’t come any closer than an invitation to a Kansas City Chiefs mini-camp his first summer out of school. He didn’t fit the physical prototype for an NFL defensive tackle, which in that league tends to weigh heavily. He was to the Kansas defense what Todd Reesing was to the offense, a talented, relentless competitor, a constant source of irritation for the opposing coach, a superstar who didn’t project well in the eyes of scouts.

Just as the offense hasn’t been the same since Reesing’s departure, the defense hasn’t resembled that of the Orange Bowl unit led up front by McClinton and anchored by Aqib Talib, an NFL star.

Reesing has left football behind because it left him behind. He’s working in the business world in Austin for prominent KU graduate David Booth.

McClinton? The NFL dream still burns in him, so he keeps fanning its flames, even if that means playing in the Arena Football League in Green Bay and working as a bouncer at Stadium View Bar and Grill near Lambeau Field.

McClinton recently finished his second season in the AFL and played nose guard for a Green Bay Blizzard team that lost the title game. He registered 10.5 sacks in the regular season. His weight is up to 308 pounds, and he was generously listed by the team as being 6-feet tall.

“I’d like to play football another 10 years,” said McClinton, whose last game for KU was in the Orange Bowl in January, 2008. “It’s all how long the Lord allows me to play. I’m doing his will. I would like a long career, but I don’t plan on staying in this league. I’m hoping to move on up.”

McClinton, from Garland, Texas, said he has found living in Green Bay interesting, but it’s not where he wants to spend the rest of his life.

“I just haven’t figured out what there is to do in Green Bay,” McClinton said. “There is a lot of drinking going on here. These people love to drink, and they love their football. They like to say, ‘We might not have a drinking problem, but we have a football problem.’ These fans right here, they’re a step above regular fans. They love their Packers. They’re so into them. It’s amazing, and it’s also a little weird.”

On the day of the Super Bowl, McClinton said “there were about a thousand people at the bar.”

The odds of McClinton getting an NFL shot remain long, which won’t change the fact he was a second-team All-American on a 12-1 team that has records of 8-5, 5-7 and 3-9 since.

With one of the nation’s toughest schedules in store — the first under the format in which the four remaining teams from what was known as the North play six games against teams from what was known as the South — the trend isn’t likely to reverse. McClinton has faith it will. He is nothing if not a man of faith.

“I met Turner Gill at (former teammate) Micah Brown’s sister’s wedding,” McClinton said. “He played with Micah’s dad at Nebraska. He’s a good man. He’s the best man for the job right now.”

Comments

Marcus Balzer 3 years, 5 months ago

J-Mac is one of the most underrated players in KU history. When Reesing gets his number in the Ring of Fame J-Mac should be right beside him. You go back and watch game tape from his senior year there wasn't a more dominant player on that defense and that includes Q. Beside all of that he is one of the most humble, genuine and all around great people I have ever met. My favorite story about J-Mac is during the magical run of 2008 I can remember walking back to my apartment and seeing J-Mac picking up trash on Wescoe Beach all by himself. J, I hope all is well w/ you and I hope and pray one day you do get your shot at the League.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 5 months ago

I don't mean this to be nit-picky, I really don't, but could someone refresh my memory on the criteria to have your number on the stadium wall? I'm pretty sure 1st team All-American or something to that effect. So, the sad truth is that Reesing will never get a sniff of that wall. While he was one of my favorite Jayhawks ever and one of the greatest QBs we've ever had, he wasn't even 1st team All-Big XII. I would think the other gunslinger, Aqib Talib, would be the only player off the '07 team to get mention. Does anybody remember the criteria?

KGphoto 3 years, 5 months ago

What are you sniffin'? The criteria?

What are the criteria for being a fan? Reesing deserves a farging statue in front of the stadium! There are 5-6 guys from the '07 squad who deserve to be enshrined in the ring.

IMO. Build a sculpture of Reesing, just after releasing a pass, with Anthony Collins protecting his blindside. Then have two sculptures, one of Meier, one of Briscoe, each making a signature catch about 15 yards away.

Nearby, another couple of sculptures. One of McClinton laying the wood to a QB, and one of Talib diving into the endzone.

Criteria...

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 5 months ago

Trust me, I'd be all for that, but the fact that we all love those guys doesn't mean KU is putting any of their names on that wall. I'm strictly speaking of the criteria KU has set forth for that wall, just like they have for the banners in Allen Fieldhouse. I do love the idea of a statue though, no criteria for that. If I came across as criticizing any of those players, that wasn't my intent, just simply saying they won't be going on the stadium wall.

Kman_blue 3 years, 5 months ago

The criteria as I understand it, is that the player has to have been on an All-America list of some kind(and it doesn't have to be 1st team, see Willie Pless, who should of been 1st team IMHO, for example...then again WIllie is in both the CFL hall of fame and KU hall of fame also in addition to being elected the best LB in the entire history of the Big 8 right after it became the Big 12) or in one of the football halls of fame. Reesing was 1st team Academic All-America and so he meets the requirement. J-Mac was 2nd team All-America and that qualifies him. Both Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins were both consensus 1st team All-Americans also from that 2007 team and so both qualify for being put up in the ring. That's at least 4 guys from that 2007 team which qualify for the ring. It's possible guys like Stuckey, Meier, and Briscoe could eventually qualify also.

panalytic 3 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, I miss that guy. He was a great player and fun to watch and listen to. Best of luck with pro football - in any league.

Bob Forer 3 years, 5 months ago

Great guy. Hope he gets a shot at the NFL.t

Jhawk59 3 years, 5 months ago

McClinton = John Randle 2.0, too bad John Randle would not get a shot in todays NFL either. Too many "he doesn't fit the mold" coaches around.

Keith Kienzle 3 years, 5 months ago

Keegan, this was a good article. Well written, you chose a topic that people want to read about, got some quotes, kept it positive and enjoyable. Good work!

number1jayhawker 3 years, 5 months ago

Heck if J Mac is up to 3 bills, then that should help him at least get an invite to an NFL training camp.

Uh don't the Chiefs need a DT? Hopefully he has a good agent with contacts.

rastameta 3 years, 5 months ago

He had a free agent offer with the Raiders and turned it down, then had a seizure and no teams were willing to bring him in. It was a bad move to turn down the one team that offered to bring you into camp.

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