A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last offseason, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is running back DeShawn McClease from Virginia Tech. He is coming off his best collegiate season in which he led the Hokies in rushing in 2019. We had a great conversation about his offseason workouts, what career he could go into after football, and what he can bring to your NFL team.
5’9” 190 pounds
177 carries for 842 yards— 4.8 yards per carry— and 7 touchdowns.
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts may not need another running back this year but McClease is an intriguing player. He isn’t a burner like Nyheim Hines but he possesses similar elusiveness in the open field. His ability to make defenders miss is uncanny and can be a real asset in the NFL. If the Colts want to add a depth player who has a similar skill set to Hines, McClease could be a good fit in the later rounds of the draft.
VT RB Deshawn McClease showing some nice balance and burst. pic.twitter.com/E7MDLdU2Id— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 4, 2017
Just got off the phone with @HokiesFB RB DeShawn McClease. Real impressive guy. Improved each year at VT. Working on his speed and route running in Bommaritos, FLA in preparation for his Pro Day. He’s lightning quick with good vision. Could be a late round value in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/BSqrZNVbIu— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 26, 2020
ZH: I believe you were recruited by Virginia Tech when legendary Head Coach Frank Beamer was still there. What was the adjustment like going from Beamer to Justin Fuente?
DM: It was kind of a difficult transition. Coach Beamer recruited me when I was in 9th or 10th grade so I had a pretty good relationship with him. Nobody really saw him retiring when he did so it was a bit of a shock to everybody who came in when I came in. When Coach Fuente got there, it was like starting over from scratch. You have to impress a whole new offensive coaching staff— the defensive staff stayed mostly the same— and prove myself you know.
ZH: You declared for the draft after a strong season in 2019, leading the team with over 800 yards rushing. What went into declaring early for this draft?
DM: I don’t necessarily see it as declaring early as I have been there for five years. I had an extra year because I medical redshirted. Yeah I had been there for five years, I’m working on finishing my second degree this May, and I felt like I had a pretty good season and I wanted to pursue my dreams. I felt like right now was the perfect time.
ZH: Awesome, man. What are your two degrees you have (or are going to have) from Virginia Tech?
DM: My first one was in human development and my second one will be in consumer studies.
ZH: That’s great to hear, man. What career do you plan to go into after football with those degrees?
DM: I didn’t really want to use them to get a regular 9-5, I just wanted to get a broad spectrum of degrees to keep my options open and I didn’t want to limit myself after college. I actually want to get into real estate and have my own real estate company and yeah I just want to have my own company.
ZH: You’ve been at VT since 2015 and now you are finally moving on to the next chapter of your career. What area of your game would you say you’ve improved the most in over the years?
DM: That’s a good one man... I’d have to say my overall knowledge for the game. Studying film and you know coming from high school you think you are good and have it all figured out but there is just so much more you have to learn. Mainly it was reading defenses, getting a feel for the game, watching film, and getting bigger and faster throughout my career. I just improved a lot overall in my whole game.
ZH: I heard that you are training down in Bommaritos, Florida for your Pro Day. What parts of your game are you working on most?
DM: We are mostly correcting my mechanics. Working on speed, explosiveness, and catching the ball. We are just going out there and trying to do all the drills that we simulate for the process. I’m just trying to tune in and focus on all the small details.
ZH: A big part of the NFL game for running backs is catching the football nowadays. You didn’t get too many targets in the passing game at Virginia Tech. Do you feel comfortable as a receiver out of the backfield?
DM: Absolutely and I think that is what will separate me from a lot of other backs in this draft class. There are a lot of good backs in this class but I feel like I can be lined up anywhere. I can be a mismatch guy against linebackers in the pass game. I’m just trying to focus and give it my all when I’m running routes and I’m being meticulous in all my technique to show out for these NFL scouts.
ZH: What would you say is your biggest strength in your game as a running back?
DM: I feel like I’m a change of pace back. When I come in, I’m definitely going to change the pace of the game. I prefer to go more up tempo and I feel like my biggest strengths are my quickness, catching the ball out of the backfield or lining up in the slot, and being able to be used in more than one way.
ZH: Who would you say was the toughest defender or overall defense you faced in college?
DM: I felt like game wise, Notre Dame probably schemed us the best because they just dropped nine in the box and pressed the receivers so it was hard to run against that in the box.
ZH: Which NFL players do you model your game after?
DM: I try not to study just one back. I like to pick and choose a lot of different things from good backs. Devin Singletary and Frank Gore are actually training down here and I try to watch those guys to pick up on the things that they do in training. I’ve been watching a lot of film on Aaron Jones too. He’s not the biggest back but man he gets the job done.
ZH: What is my NFL team getting if they spend a draft pick on DeShawn McClease?
DM: You are going to get someone who is going to come to work every day. Good energy. You are getting someone who is not going to give you any problems off the field and is instead going to bring nothing but positivity to your organization. You are getting not only a mismatch in the pass game but I can also run the ball between the tackles, outside zones, powerplays, whatever... You are getting a complete football player and someone who is even better off the field.