Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Recruiting: Boca Ciega's Elijah McClendon switching to safety to attract attention

Elijah McClendon is an all-county linebacker, but this spring he is spending all his time hoping to prove that's not all he is.

The Boca Ciega rising senior has been showing up at camps and combines as a safety, a transition he hopes leads to his first scholarship offer.

"Well, I'm like an undersized linebacker, but I can cover like a safety," said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound McClendon. "We (he and new Pirates coach Antez Brinson) talked about it and thought it out, and decided it's best for me since this is what I'll probably play in college."

Now the task is getting colleges to agree.

For McClendon, the on-field transition should be an easy one.

He was always fast for a linebacker and good in coverage, so the move is natural.

And he likes to hit.

"I'm already like a hard-hitting safety; I like to punish people when they come across the middle. You got to have that mentality to play that position."

McClendon, who has a 2.8 grade-point average and hopes to become fully qualified before the end of football season, said he has been working hard on coverage, more of the off-man stuff than man-to-man, which he believes he has a good handle on.

At last week's Elite Scouting Services camp at Armwood, he was solid in the one-on-one drills, covering Berkeley Prep standout Nelson Agholor and Plant City receiver LaMarlin Wiggins.

At the camp, McClendon said recruitniks from Scout, Rivals, 247sports and ESPN talked to him.

He has had lots of contact with the staff at USF and said Middle Tennessee State has also shown some interest while a number of other schools have sent him mail.

"I'm working on getting my name out there," he said.

Timed in 4.7-4.8-second range in the 40-yard dash, and one of the strongest competitors at the ESS camp with 21 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press, McClendon hopes he can continue burnishing his credentials as a safety.

He was supposed to make the move to safety last season, but the Pirates needed him at linebacker, so those plans were scrapped.

That has left him without any video of him at the position he anticipates playing at the next level. So he has put special emphasis on his efforts this spring.

"I feel like I've been coming along, but there's a lot of work to do," McClendon said. "I think going against LaMarlin and guys like Nelson Agholor is good. I think I did good against them.

"There's pressure because I got to be perfect. Those guys are already there, they're already getting offers. I have no room for error."

McClendon, who had 85 tackles, two interceptions and nine sacks last season, is attending the Nike training camp today in Tallahassee with teammate Denzel Conyers.

Then he hopes to show prospective colleges what he can do with pads on when spring football starts May 2.

"My offseason has been really intense," he said. "I've been working out five days a week. I'm in the weight room; I'm running track.

"I feel like something good is going to happen pretty soon, I just got to be patient. Then come springtime, I have to show the colleges that I can play the position."

Recruiting: Boca Ciega's Elijah McClendon switching to safety to attract attention 04/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 16, 2011 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Vernon Hargreaves needs to improve

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and coach Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, throwing an incompletion under pressure after replacing injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals,  would start this Sunday in Buffalo if Winston’s shoulder is still bothering him.
  4. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]