Monday, May 19, 2014

Rising star watch: Russell McClung

Buchanan-Clovis wide receiver Russell McClung went from undersized wideout to an emerging under-the-radar talent in the Central Valley.

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McClung, who played on a Buchanan team that went 1-10 overall in 2013, has spent January to now perfecting his routes, hands and speed. The 5-foot-9, 154-pound McClung first caught the attention of Passing Down by averaging 8-10 catches per game, including 10 receptions against a stacked TMP Elite squad full of the best talent in Northern California.

McClung's latest breakout performance came in the Nike Sparq Combine on May 17-18 at Oakland's Laney College. His 40-yard dash time of 4.59 was the second fastest at the combine. His vertical jump was measured at 37.4 inches, the 10th highest mark among participants.

He's looking like the 559's version of Wes Welker. Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: Shows rapid fire feet on his breaks against defensive backs, then turns on the jets and gets open. Does an excellent job of extending his arms in front of his chest to haul in the reception. Has a running back's elusiveness in the open field and can run around defenders. Tough competitor who has caught passes against two or three defenders swarming at him. Stuns defenders with his leaping ability and can snatch the jump ball. Finishes his routes and receptions. He's never afraid to show his speed.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Though he's fearless, he seems to make his most catches on out routes and in the corner of the end zone. Need to see his consistency on hauling in the middle grab. Also need to see his ability to fight off press coverages, since he's done most of his damage against a zone. Can also look to reach to 170 or 190-pounds so he can have the ideal physique of a slot receiver.

OVERALL: McClung's work ethic, big-play capability and attitude is turning him into one of the Bears' top college football prospects. Cal Poly, Fresno State and UC Davis have shown interest in him, with Davis visiting him at Buchanan on May 19. If he continues his offseason rampage and has a breakout senior season, the Class of 2015 prospect could see a collection of awards or offers.

More on McClung:

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