Football not DB’s only stage
The 11th in a series profiling newcomers to the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.
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.”