Foot­ball not DB’s only stage

The 11th in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

Amer­i­can Her­itage School in Del­ray Beach, Fla., is an ex­pen­sive pri­vate school, but Arkansas Ra­zor­backs fresh­man cor­ner­back Jarques McClellion was de­ter­mined to find a way to help pay the tu­ition.

“We’re not poor, but we’re not rich at the same time; we’re mid­dle class,” McClellion said of his fam­ily. “I had to pay for Her­itage. It cost a lot for me and my fam­ily. I can say we strug­gled a lit­tle bit.

“There was a time I felt like my par­ents should just let me go to a pub­lic school so we wouldn’t have to strug­gle, but my mom said … we’re go­ing to find a way.”

McClellion, 6-0, 175 pounds, started at­tend­ing the school in the spring of his sev­enth-grade year. In the ninth grade, his mother, Tamika, looked into work­ing at the school in ad­di­tion to her reg­u­lar job to help pay for the tu­ition.

He didn’t want any of that. Her­itage Coach Brad Trem­per in­formed him in the ninth grade he could earn a drama schol­ar­ship at the school, and McClellion set out to do just that.

“He told me I could as long as I could act,” McClellion said.

McClellion had to au­di­tion for the schol­ar­ship, which re­quired a lot of re­hearsal on top of his home­work.

“I had to re­search about my char­ac­ter,” McClellion said. “I had to learn my mono­logue. I would be up at 2 o’clock in the morn­ing scream­ing my lungs out for my mono­logue, and my mom would come in there ask­ing, ‘What are you do­ing?’ ”

About four months later, McClellion at­tacked the au­di­tion like he would a re­ceiver on Fri­day night.

“I just went all out. I did ev­ery­thing right, and when I was done, I was just full out cry­ing be­cause he told me I got the 100 percent schol­ar­ship,” McClellion said. “That’s my sec­ond stage. Foot­ball is my first stage.”

Trem­per wasn’t sur­prised McClellion earned the schol­ar­ship.

“He’s big time in the the­ater,” Trem­per said.

McClellion is study­ing busi­ness at Arkansas, but he is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing drama classes. too.

“It’s some­thing I could see my­self do­ing if foot­ball

doesn’t work out,” he said.

Trem­per said he knew McClellion was a dif­fer­ent type of ath­lete quickly.

“I moved Jarques up to the var­sity in the sev­enth grade for work­outs be­cause he ac­tu­ally started off as a tail­back and was just dom­i­nat­ing that level,” Trem­per said.

He was moved to cor­ner­back in the eighth grade.

“At first, he kind of fought me on it be­cause ev­ery good ballplayer wants the ball,” Trem­per said.

McClellion spent his en­tire eighth grade sea­son on the var­sity.

“He ac­tu­ally got into the start­ing lineup a lit­tle bit as a ninth-grader,” Trem­per said. “He played more nickel back as an eighth-grader be­cause what we liked about him was 6 foot tall in the eighth grade

and could run.”

The Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville ex­tended a schol­ar­ship of­fer to McClellion on Feb. 2, 2016. He orally com­mit­ted to the Hogs on June 27 with­out see­ing the cam­pus. He even­tu­ally saw his fu­ture home about a month later when he and his father vis­ited.

Head Coach Bret Bielema and lineback­ers coach Ver­non Har­g­reaves gained McClellion’s trust and made him feel like a part of the Arkansas fam­ily.

“I looked at coach Har­g­reaves, and I be­lieved he had my back all the way, and in talk­ing to Coach B as well, I felt like I con­nected,” McClellion said.

His father, Cen­tral McClellion, was a de­fen­sive back for Ohio State from 1995-1998 and played for the Cleve­land Browns, Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and Kansas City Chiefs. Jarques learned the game from his father and cousin, Bran­don Flow­ers, a free agent de­fen­sive back who most re­cently played for the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

“In my fam­ily, foot­ball is noth­ing new,” McClellion said. “There’s noth­ing I haven’t touched on the sub­ject. If I hadn’t heard it from my father, I heard it from Bran­don Flow­ers.”

His father taught him about ded­i­ca­tion and go­ing

the ex­tra mile, which in­cludes af­ter prac­tice.

“He would go through a var­sity prac­tice, and he would make him run an ex­tra 10 100’s,” Trem­per said. “It was ev­ery day. I wouldn’t see the dad un­til we were done with prac­tice.”

McClellion played both ways for the Stal­lions and sel­dom came off the field. He recorded 46 tack­les, 1 forced fum­ble, de­fended 21 passes while giv­ing up only 2 com­ple­tions on defense. He also had 16 re­cep­tions for 512 yards and 4 touch­downs on of­fense.

“If there’s a kid that could play both ways on the Divi­sion I level, it’s Jarques,” Trem­per said. “He’s smart, he has great hands, great ball skills. You usu­ally don’t see that in a DB.”

He chose the Hogs over schol­ar­ship of­fers from Michi­gan State, Ne­braska, West Vir­ginia, Cal­i­for­nia, Ken­tucky and Louisville and oth­ers, in­clud­ing a late of­fer from Florida.

“He felt like Arkansas was re­ally a fam­ily,” Trem­per said.

McClellion wants to play as a true fresh­man.

“Even if I don’t start, I want as much play­ing time as pos­si­ble,” McClellion said. “I want to be Aca­demic All-Amer­i­can be­cause there’s more to life than foot­ball. Aca­demics are key. I want to suc­ceed.”


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