This is an article that I was not looking forward to writing, but thought it necessary.
Although I am sad that Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Rolando McClain is going, I also support that in many ways, and want to say, before he goes, Thank You.
McClain is another name forever etched in the minds of the Crimson Tide faithful, as well as others in the college football world. There have been so many linebackers that can be labeled as great, but McClain, to me, might need a statue right alongside the coach.
I am not a statistics guy, never have been, as I am not always a believer in them. Stats will tell the technical side, but there is much more to a player of this magnitude than just numbers.
McClain is a leader, plain and simple. Just watching him on the field will back up that title. We have all watched him over the last three years, and he puts people where they need to be. He has the size. He has the speed. He has the desire. And, most importantly, he has the knowledge.
As I mentioned, there are several linebackers that you can label great who have worn the crimson and white, but did they orchestrate their defense the way he did?
Did they change the defense only seconds before the snap?
My guess is maybe, but not to the level he did.
What is the overall reaction of defensive players, if you ask them what happens when they miss an assignment?
You have to answer to “Ro”.
Wait a minute, what about Coach Nick Saban?
You don't have to answer to him?
Sure you do, but he’s not 6’4” and 258 pounds.
I would say it is all about respect.
Respect to a player that has earned it, on and off the field. I have not played college football, but have competed in sports most of my life, and you have respect for someone that does their job, and does it well. McClain has done just that and enjoyed success as a result of it.
Not taking anything away from all the other players. They have all done a fantastic job of being one of the top defenses in the nation. But, with the loss of Hightower, we thought that our defense would struggle.
It didn’t, and that is a credit to players stepping up and playing when needed. It is also a credit to McClain for playing most likely a bigger role in the defense after losing not only your right-hand man so to speak, but a rising star at linebacker.
I am sure I speak for plenty when I say we will surely miss No. 25 tracking people down on the field. I would say we all will certainly be watching him on Sundays for a long time to come. His decision is sound in my opinion.
Really, what else can he accomplish on the field?
I know this is a team effort, but his talent can't be denied.
I know this comment will never be heard by McClain, but as a fan of Alabama my whole life and also as a fan of McClain, I will go back to the beginning of this article and just say what I think we all want to say to this young man.
We have enjoyed, appreciated, and marveled at all he has done for the University of Alabama.
Thank you, Rolando.