http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013 ... portspreps
Jacques McClendon among area top 13 in line
by Stephen Hargis
Former Baylor School and University of Tennessee standout Jacques McClendon is with his fourth NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, and is on the Times Free Press list of all-time top 13 area offensive linemen.
Throughout his football career, versatility and brute strength have separated Jacques McClendon from his sizable competition.
A three-year starter on both the offensive and defensive line at Baylor School, McClendon even caught passes as a tight end for a couple of games as a senior and was a U.S. Army All-American as well as a Parade magazine All-American. He played both tackle and guard at Tennessee and in 2008 was a starter on a line that allowed the fewest sacks in the nation, just one per 134 passes by Volunteers quarterbacks.
The 6-foot-3, 324-pound McClendon also set program records in the weight room at UT and was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. After one season there, he played for two years with the Detroit Lions before being signed to the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad six games into last season.
After playing guard last season, McClendon began making the difficult transition to center during the Falcons' 2013 organized team activities.
"It's definitely a transition," McClendon said. "At first I just thought of myself as a guard who could snap it. By the end of OTAs I was feeling pretty confident with it. There's a lot of responsibility on you to make the right calls for the line at center. But if anything, it's made my football IQ even higher, and I think it will only add to my list of skills to bring to the team.
"All you can ask is to get an opportunity in this league, and I've got that. Once you get the opportunity, the rest is up to you, so I'm going to work as hard as I can to make the move to center."
As he enjoys the last few weeks with his family before returning to Atlanta to begin preseason camp, McClendon said he was surprised and honored when told he would be on the Times Free Press list of the 13 best offensive linemen in area history.
"I'm not even the best lineman who played at Baylor," McClendon joked, referring to Pro Hall of Famer John Hannah. "I mean, the greatest offensive lineman of all time played at Baylor, so just to be on a list with him is an incredible honor. Chattanooga is still home and still near and dear to me, so that means a lot.
"I've already been blessed to have the career I've had, and I know I'm blessed to be on a team where the sky's the limit," McClendon said, noting the Falcons' Super Bowl expectations. "You just feel like you're a part of a special team. It's one of the best situations I've been in.
"My wife and mom still live in Cleveland, so I'm close to home and in a place where we believe we can be really good. It's great to be a part of something like that."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com