With family and friends gathered at his parents’ home in Anniston, Clemson’s Antoine McClain said he felt plenty of that as the draft rounds went one after the other. Now, that stress is gone and he said the main feeling is relief.
Once the draft was complete, Anniston product McClain became one of 20 players signed to free-agent contracts by the Baltimore Ravens. He said the Ravens and “a couple of other teams” had been in contact with him and his agents, Joe Linta and Tom Klein, throughout the process.
“I was just ready for it to be over with,” McClain said. “Now I can enjoy myself.”
While the selection has been made, the process is just starting. He will take part in a three-day rookie mini-camp on May 11 at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, Md.
Should McClain earn a spot on an NFL roster, he would become the 12th player in Anniston High School history to play in football’s highest professional level and first since the final season for Quinton Caver, who ended his career after eight games with the Dallas Cowboys in 2005.
McClain left Anniston High with plenty of acclaim. ESPN ranked him among the top 100 players in the nation (at 78) and among the top 15 at his position, offensive tackle (13th by Rivals.com; 9th by Scout.com). At Clemson, he didn’t disappoint. Lettering three seasons, McClain made 41 career consecutive starts, the most of any other Clemson player. In his career 2,438 snaps he recorded 183 knock-down blocks, more than half coming in his senior season.
McClain also excelled in the classroom, earning the Vickery Hall student athlete award in 2010 and making the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll in 2010-11.
Since ending his college career Jan. 4 at the Orange Bowl, McClain said he’s been working out at Clemson and back home in Anniston. Through workouts and more concentration on nutrition, he’s gotten his weight down from the 335 pounds he played at in college to 315 pounds on a 6-foot-5 frame.
McClain said conversations with Caver, a second-round pick in 2001, helped him maneuver the combine and draft process.
“I’ve always felt I was solid, never just fat,” he said. “I went through my chubby stage, but I feel healthy now.”
With running and working out, he said there’s still a little nervousness about reporting to camp. Especially considering that when he reports to camp it will have been fourth months since he played his last game. But mixed in with his relief, eagerness is starting to bloom.
“I know the first day is going to suck,” he said, “but you’ve just got get back out there and get into it.
“It feels great. Baltimore is a great organization … now I’ve just got to go out there and prove a point.”
Assistant Managing Editor Bran Strickland: 256-235-3590. On Twitter @bran_strickland.