Vaught's Views: Recruiters starting to notice Mercer's McCloud

May 16, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

If Andrew McCloud played for Boyle County or Danville, his name would have been much more recognizable for college recruits.

But he plays football at Mercer County, which doesn't have the annual reservation in the state football championships like the Title Town teams have had.

That's why not only are area fans much more aware of the talent of players like Danville running back Kelvin Turner and Boyle quarterback Brandon Smith, but so were college coaches. However, that is changing.

McCloud and Mercer have made a concerted marketing effort to get his name in front of college recruiters. Assistant coach Dan Yates, who coached at Harrodsburg when Dennis Johnson and Julius Yeast were both national recruits, helped put together a nine-minute video that has been sent to about 40 colleges.


Mercer coach Duane Hammons is also having a brochure put together touting McCloud as a Mr. Football candidate that will be sent to various media members.

"It might not be enough to get him Mr. Football, but at least it will help get his name out there and let people see what he can do," Hammons said.

He can do plenty. He rushed for 1,903 yards and a school-record 23 touchdowns last season. He broke the school record with a 330-yard rushing game and then broke his own mark with a 350-yard game.

Remember, he did this behind a young line and despite the fact that teams knew when he was going to get the ball 90 percent of the time.

He's not overpowering at 5-10 and 180 pounds, but he's deceptively strong and surprisingly fast. He can take, or deliver, a blow. He can also outrun a defender or make a move to get free.

"He also has an amazing field of vision. He sees everything," Yates said.

He ran a 4.42 at combine

College recruiters have seen that speed recently. He was the fastest player in the 40-yard dash at a combine in Lexington earlier this month. Then he ran a sizzling 4.42 40 in the Mid-States Football Coaches Association Combine Tuesday at Centre College.

Not only that, but he also had a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump, bench-pressed 185 pounds 16 times and finished the shuttle run in an impressive 4.18 seconds.

Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope may not have known much about McCloud when he arrived at Centre Tuesday, but he does now.

Louisville assistant coach Greg Nord already knew about McCloud because of his earlier workout. He had already spent almost two hours at Mercer looking at film before seeing him turn in the fastest time at the Centre combine.

But there's more. McCloud has already committed to attend a one-day camp in June at Florida, which is interested in him as a kick return specialist.

He's also going to the position camp as well as the one-day invitational camp at Kentucky and left UK special teams coach Steve Ortmayer impressed with his skills Tuesday.

Auburn has expressed significant interest. So has Alabama, which told Mercer coaches that McCloud's size was not a concern because of his strength and speed. He's been invited to Alabama's one-day summer invitational camp, too.

Many other schools, including Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Notre Dame, have shown interest in McCloud. Yates says Western Kentucky is also "very interested" and that Georgetown coach Bill Cronin has made it clear that he would love to have McCloud play for the Tigers.

Decision to run track has paid dividents

Obviously, McCloud's decision to not play baseball this year to run track to improve his speed has paid huge dividends. His family also hired Eddie Long, a former Harrodsburg player who is now a personal trainer in Louisville, to work with McCloud. The Mercer junior goes to Louisville one day a week to work out, and Long comes to Harrodsburg each Sunday to be with McCloud.

"The biggest thing for Andrew has just been getting used to being wanted," Yates said. "He's a very modest kid, and this is all new for him. We just want to help him have all the opportunities he can."

Don't worry. His 4.42 on Tuesday should have taken care of that, and McCloud's name is going to be one a lot of college staffs are going to be discussing as much in the next few months as Mercer opponents will next season.

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