At the conclusion of the 2021 season, Missouri had a massive needs for a linebacker talent infusion. Eli Drinkwitz and staff looked at the portal and pulled out a blue chip phenom who had flashed in moments for the Florida Gators but struggled to see the field. Ty’Ron Hopper then became one of the more disruptive pieces the Tigers have had for the past two years.
Once the 2022 season ended, Missouri needs an experienced safety to buttress the highly rated-safety recruits that were coming in. They once again found a guy in Gainesville who had production but couldn’t regularly see the rotation. Tre’Vez Johnson then became the number one trusted backup at every safety spot, and even filled in at corner.
So, when the discussion over the past month was “Missouri needs an experienced piece to round out its interior defensive line”, you didn’t need three guesses to figure out where they were going to look.
BREAKING: Former Florida DL Chris McClellan has Committed to Missouri, he tells @on3sports— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) December 26, 2023
The 6’4 320 DL from Tulsa, OK will have 2 years of eligibility remaining
“I feel as if they are gonna put me in the best position to be successful & develop me over the next 2 years.”… pic.twitter.com/PkbgBIOqcD
Highly-rated blue chip? Check. Depth piece who didn’t see the field much? Check. Florida-comma-University-of? Check! Beating out Coach Prime at Colorado and Missouri-native Dan Lanning at Oregon is just the extra cherry achievement on top.
Where He Fits: So there’s two Chris McCleelans that you can watch: the “in high school” version and the “at Florida” version. The high school version of McClellan was awesome; he played both edge rusher and interior lineman, but was blessed with the condition of BAFTEE (“bigger and faster than everyone else”) and his tape is nothing but him demolishing high school tackles and absorbing opposing quarterbacks. I have no read on the caliber of Oklahoma high school football, let alone the quality of players Tulsa produces, but regardless of the skill he went up against, he was lightyears better than his opponents were an was used as a stick of dynamite to eliminate whatever play the offense was running.
At Florida, he was used differently. Thanks to already being over 300 pounds as a freshman, Napier’s staff deployed him as a space-eating interior lineman, whose skill - seemingly - was to get double-teamed. I mean, just look as his stat sheet: over 25 games he averages about 20 snaps per game and finished with a mere 3.5 TFLs paired with his 43 total tackles (assisted plus solo).
Now, that’s not a slight to McClellan. There are many ways to play defensive line and “space eater that demands double teams” is a valuable attribute.
When He’ll Play: You all remember Josh Landry, right? He’s still on the team after all! Landry and McClellan have similar skills and career paths; highly-rated coming out of high school, depth pieces on talented teams that didn’t see the field enough, play a style that’s more complimentary for their teammates to make plays while they eat a double team at the snap. Landry played a ton but was never a starter, per se. And as we know with Blake Baker, he plays a ton of depth to keep guys fresh. McClellan will play next year, no question. I can’t make a prediction on snap counts or starter status but we’ll see him on the field plenty.
The Stat Stuff: I mentioned it above: 25 games, 544 snaps, 43 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 7 run stuffs. In ‘22, when he made a tackle the ball carrier had gained 2.3 yards on average; in ‘23 the ball carrier he tackled had gone 4.6 yards on average. It’s not an impressive stat sheet but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
What It All Means: Baker needed depth along the interior after for sure losing two, possibly three of his top four guys. And without knowing for sure if the 4th guy is coming back, nor the quality of the guys who didn’t see the field this year, McClellan comes in to save the day and provide snaps and skills this defense needs. The fact that he’s a former blue chipper from a (former!) division rival makes it even better! This staff has a solid track record of bringing guys from the portal who can contribute and make an impact at a new school and, until proven otherwise, I’m confident Chris McClellan will be another high caliber addition from the Drinkwitz Portal Shopping Team.