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Archive for Thursday, March 29, 2007

McClinton hopes to prove he has game

March 29, 2007

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Now there's more proof than ever video games are a big hit with college football players.

The EA Sports NCAA Football video-game series features the likenesses of real college players on all 119 Division I-A teams.

The game usually designates a couple of standouts on each team as the "impact players" by putting a white circle under them on the field and giving them a few subtle powers that others don't have.

Kansas University senior James McClinton has no inside knowledge on the next edition of the game, which comes out this summer.

But he does have a goal for next season.

"I gotta be one of those, man," he said.

McClinton's desire to be an impact player isn't for video-game glory, of course. It's because the senior defensive tackle feels he HAS to be that for the Jayhawks if they want a chance to be successful.

"I'm taking that role now. I'm the vet," McClinton said. "I've got to be the daddy, and I've got to lead these people."

McClinton indeed is the grizzled veteran of a KU defense looking to make a remarkable turnaround - and fast. After ranking dead last in Division I-A against the pass last year, KU currently is in the middle of spring drills trying to distance itself from that lack of success each and every drill.

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2006-07 March 28 Spring Quotes

That includes the pass rush. Last year, McClinton was joined on the line by mostly seniors, including Paul Como, Rodney Allen and Wayne Wilder.

Now, it's just him and junior defensive end Russell Brorsen, a former tight end. Nobody else has starting experience up front.

"If I'm weak, they're going to be weak," McClinton said. "I've got to be the strong one even if they're going to be weak. I've got to."

McClinton, a second-team All-Big 12 selection, registered 51 tackles and 14 1/2 tackles for a loss last year. The Jayhawks' pass rush proved to be a problem, but McClinton might have gone above and beyond to help out.

"James has done a good job," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We don't ask our inside guys to be sack guys, but stop the run, push the pocket up, get your hands up and take away some throwing lanes. We're OK in that situation with James."

Now McClinton graciously accepts the added responsibilities of being a senior with 30 games of experience - more career games than any other two linemen put together.

Complementing McClinton are defensive tackles Todd Haselhorst (16 career games) and Caleb Blakesley (12) and defensive ends Russell Brorsen (12), John Larson (12), Jeff Wheeler (12) and Maxwell Onyegbule (two).

Clearly, the experience isn't there. But McClinton is trying to make sure he has a say in whether that matters.

His job, as he sees it, no longer is just on the field.

"I'm still in the growing process," McClinton said. "I'm not there yet. But I'm getting better."

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