By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
When he arrived at EKU two years ago, Jared McClain knew he was ready — both mentally and physically — to step onto the field and make an impact.
And he did just that.
Now, he’s ready to prove he can step up and be the focal point and the leader of the Colonel offense.
McClain, who will be a junior this fall, came into spring practice as EKU’s No. 1 quarterback and he has embraced his new role enthusiastically.
“I got some experience my first two years, which was really helpful,” McClain said. “My job is not too simple, but its not too hard. Just be smart with the football and facilitate the ball down the field.”
McClain has served as the main backup behind T.J. Pryor the past two seasons, but he’s had the opportunity to get some extended playing time, especially in some big-time situations.
The Hiram Ga., native started at Kansas State as true freshman and he also started three games last season — including the season opener at Purdue.
“He’s never been afraid,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “We’ve put him in games and no matter what the situation is, he is always good.”
Those moments have prepared McClain to step into the starters role full-time this season.
“I’ve been through the fire,” McClain said. “I’ve been in those big moments and I’ve played in conference games, which are more important. I’ve seen just about everything and I’ve been tested. So, I will be ready to go this fall.”
Last season, McClain played in six games and completed 30-of-53 passes for 460 yards and had three touchdowns and three interceptions. He started three of the first four games of the season.
As a freshman, McClain also played in six games.
Having played in the system for two years, the quarterback come into spring practice with plenty of confidence.
“We are doing some things a little bit different, but its pretty much the same,” McClain said. “I’ve been doing the same thing for going on three years now. My preparation hasn’t changed. Right now, we are just focused on getting guys better.”
McClain came into spring workouts at the top of the depth chart and his performance so far during practice has continued to separate him from the rest of the quarterbacks. Kyle Romano, a freshman from Bedford, Texas, is in the mix, but at this point, there is very little doubt that McClain will head into training camp as the projected starter.
“If we went and played a game today, Jared would be the guy,” Hood said. “Kyle is a guy that is a really good player and he’s a guy who is going to win a lot of games for us down the road. He is pushing Jared, so that is good.”
McClain is well-aware of his position at the top of depth chart. Still, he’s not gotten complacent.
Not in the least bit.
He’s working hard on improving every aspect of his game, especially his footwork, and he’s put a big emphasis on, “Just being a leader and helping my teammates,” McClain said.