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)

Top prospect McCloud picks Clemson

TAMPA —Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III told a television audience Monday night that he would be attending Clemson for college, seemingly ending a long process that saw him evolve from a defensive back prospect too small to play running back to a highly coveted offensive weapon.

But it wasn't as easy as it looked.

McCloud, the No. 1 player in the Tampa Bay Times' HomeTeam 100 and one of the top recruits in the country, knew where he wanted to go to college two weeks ago when he announced he would be making his decision on a live television special.

But things changed. He sneaked in a couple of extra visits. The phone calls didn't stop. Come here, come here, come here.

When the big day rolled around, the college McCloud had planned to announce he would be attending was no longer in the picture.

Florida, Clemson, USF and UCLA were. He spent the day fielding calls from each of them.

But as he crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge on his way to the Bright House Sports Network studio Monday, his decision was unclear.

Usually engaging and verbose, McCloud muddled through some answers to a reporter, his mind elsewhere. The phone conversation had interrupted the debate he was having with his father, Ray Ray II, and his mother, Lisa, and the Sickles star sounded lost.

Brothers Jordan and Kobe rode over in another car, so the secret would be safe.

McCloud finally picked the Tigers from a list of just about every major BCS school, including Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.

They all loved the same thing about McCloud.

"He's just a playmaker," Sickles coach Brian Turner said. "He can make plays on both sides of the ball, and he can score from anywhere when you get him the ball in open space. He's just a good football player. I don't know how to put it in words, there's just something about him."

McCloud led Tampa Bay in rushing last season as a junior, amassing 2,316 yards on 300 carries, for 7.7 yards a rush.

He scored 26 touchdowns on the ground and had more than 100 yards and at least one touchdown in 12 straight games before a region final playoff loss to Osceola.

"I was surprised he wasn't getting more offers on the offensive side," Turner said. "I think it was Ohio State that offered him on offense and so did everybody else."

McCloud's ability to make tacklers miss might be his greatest trait. His shiftiness and vision, combined with great quickness and excellent top-end speed, made him a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.

He excelled in the offseason catching passes in the 7-on-7 circuit, proving there was very little he couldn't do.

That probably made the decision even harder.

"He's been on the phone all day," his father said. "He just wants to play football."

Top prospect McCloud picks Clemson 07/28/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2014 10:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …