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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: James McClinton deserves banner on Memorial Stadium exterior

Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo.Kansas defensive lineman James McClinton encloses on Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor for a sack in the second half.Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo.

Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo.Kansas defensive lineman James McClinton encloses on Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor for a sack in the second half.Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo.

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The challenge for any Hall of Fame lies in including all who deserve it without cheapening the standards.

Cornerback Aqib Talib and left tackle Anthony Collins, a pair of first-team All-Americans in 2007, both earned automatic KU Ring of Honor inclusion by virtue of first-team All-American status. They and former coach Mark Mangino deserved the honor of induction into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, which was announced Tuesday.

More than a week ago, a dozen banners of recent KU greats went up in arches on the outside wall of Memorial Stadium: Dorance Armstrong, Dezmon Briscoe, Anthony Collins, Charles Gordon, Chris Harris, Ben Heeney, Kerry Meier, Todd Reesing, Nick Reid, JaCorey Shepherd, Darrell Stuckey and Aqib Talib.

One name stands out among all others as an egregious omission: James McClinton.

A second-team All-American in 2007, McClinton was a beast of a defensive tackle, so explosive, so quick, so strong, so consistently enthusiastic.

Reached Tuesday evening at his home in Austin, Texas, McClinton said he had sent an affirmative RSVP to attend the honoring of the Orange Bowl team at the Sept. 2 season-opener against Southeast Missouri State, but is now uncertain because he is about to start a new job at a high school, supervising in-school suspension and helping to coach the football team.

“I’m trying to figure out if I’ll be able to come in,” McClinton said.

He said he was happy to hear news of Collins, Talib and coach Mark Mangino going into the KU Athletics Hall of Fame. He said he had not heard about the banners going up on the outside of the stadium.

“That’s OK,” McClinton said of his omission. “There were a lot of great players on that team and a lot of great ones after us as well.”

McClinton wanted to make sure Todd Reesing had a banner.

“Definitely have to put the quarterback up there, no question,” McClinton said. “Reesing was fun to watch. Running around the pocket, running around, running around, all the sudden he throws the ball 50 yards. Touchdown!”

Mangino, who expressed disappointment that McClinton has not yet received a banner, remembered a standout Texas A&M; offensive lineman being asked to name the toughest player in the Big 12 to block and quickly answered, “James McClinton, without a doubt.”

“James was an All-American on that 2007 team,” Mangino said. “I don’t want anyone to forget about James’ contributions. I can assure you, his teammates haven’t forgotten. The guy was a machine. He was a big part of what we did defensively.”

Mangino said that with Talib and McClinton on the field, “the other nine guys didn’t want to make a mistake because they felt peer pressure from those two, so everybody was going full speed all the time in practice.”

This is an easy fix. Make a banner and hang it in an arch before the opening game so that if McClinton can make it back to town, he’ll get to see what he deserves to see, what he has earned. He'll know that more than his coach and teammates haven't forgotten what an amazing football player he was for the university from which he is so proud to call himself a graduate.

Comments

Lonnie Ross Dillon 1 month ago

"...to attend the honoring of the Rose Bowl team..."

Rose Bowl? Seriously?

David Lara 1 month ago

Dorance Armstrong has a banner up already?

David Lara 1 month ago

Also, what's this about a Rose Bowl team?

Marcus Balzer 1 month ago

J-Mac! That was my guy back in the day. Played a huge role in making those LB's successful. Consistently was double teamed allowing LB's free lanes to come down field and attack gaps / ball carriers. Not only that but he was one of the strongest dudes I have ever met. Could get pressure on the QB right up the field and wrecked havoc in the back field.

My favorite J-Mac story was...after KU destroyed Nebraska that next Monday I was coming out of an afternoon class at Wescoe and I noticed someone picking up trash off of the 'Beach.' It was J-Mac. He was picking up trash and throwing it in the surrounding bins.

Class act. One of my favorite players of all time and a straight up BEAST on the field.

Jonathan Allison 1 month ago

McClinton deserves to be on that wall. An undersized interior DLineman, who didn't get a much of a chance at the NFL because of a heart condition or something if I recall correctly. He was a beast. He didn't get all of the sacks and tackles for loss, but he was always the one creating the pressure that led to his teammates getting the sacks and the tackles for loss (and the throwaways/deflections/interceptions as well).

Eric Brunner 1 month ago

Great list but they left off the best LB trio in recent school history. Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera, and James Holt excelled during one of the most challenging "Air Raid" seasons in Big XII history (they faced six 1000 yard RB's, Chase Daniel + Jeremy Maclin, Josh Freeman + Jordy Nelson). Also left off, our 1100 rushing yard RB Brandon McAnderson and our top 2 WR's Dexton Fields and Marcus Henry (both combined for more yards, receptions, and TD's than Briscoe and Meier combined). I will never forget what Dexton Fields did to K-State, Marcus Henry did to Oklahoma State, and Brandon McAndersen did to Texas A&M. What a great season, the whole team and coaching staff deserve banners!

Brett McCabe 1 month ago

Feels like the Mason era is getting short shrift. June, Tony, Chip, Maumalanga, Loneker, Donohoe, etc., etc.

Randy Bombardier 1 month ago

Oh, yes, Tuxedo Tony getting over 400 yards at Mizzu. Sweet. Loved the toss sweep. Great play for third and short, often taken to the house by June Henley.

Dyrk Dugan 1 month ago

James McClinton was one of the best d lineman KU has ever had; and one of the best d lineman I've ever watched play live. He blew up runs; pressured the passer and collapsed the pocket; and he did it for three full years. When he limped off the field against MU in the 2007 game at Arrowhead, I knew we would have trouble stopping them. If he and Collins both had been healthy for that game, I doubt if KU would have still lost. James deserves whatever accolades he can get; because Kansas football fans haven't seen much better.

Clara Westphal 1 month ago

How about Dana Stubblefield? KU has had a lot of great football players.

Eric Brunner 1 month ago

Jon Cornish belongs there too!!! Put up a record setting 1500 rushing yards his senior season, carried us to our first Bowl game and victory, and is one of the most decorated CFL players in recent history. He defied everything I thought I knew about football and managed to run up the middle standing straight up. This is a fun comment thread!

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