FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sophomore cornerback Jarques McClellion had praise for the defense on Monday and offered up to media what they missed as well.
“I locked up Mike Woods,” McClellion said. “Same ole, same ole, and ain’t nothing changed.”
McClellion was talking some smack against Woods following another day of the defense winning the belt from the offense.
“I told you nothing is going to change,” McClellion said. “We’re going to try to win the belt every day. We don’t play this game for fun. We’re trying to win. That’s the whole point. Every play matters.”
McClellion talked about what the defensive mindset is as well.
“We’re just making sure that guys on the field start it off fast, start it off quick, that’s how we’re going to do it and that’s how we’re going to play,” McClellion said. “That’s how we need to play all season long.”
As a redshirt freshman in 2018, McClellion started nine games. He finished the season with 25 tackles, including 21 unassisted, and seven pass breakups. What was it like to get thrown into the starting lineup when another player recruited in your class, Chevin Calloway, left the team?
“I just had to mature,” McClellion said. “I remember early in life that I had to mature because I had two younger siblings turning into three and I had to be the older brother and make sure I was doing the right things. That’s turned over to the fields well. I had to make sure I matured and instead of playing like a little kid, I had to make sure I was doing the right things so my coach will trust me and have me on the field.”
How much growth do you think you have had since last year?
“Every day I progress well,” McClellion said. “Every day I tell myself I’ve never lost, I just learn lessons. I just make sure every day I find little things, even if it’s not big things, just little things that I can critique myself on. I just grade myself every now and then.”
McClellion talked about his strengths at cornerback and what he feels he does best at the position.
“I’m the most physical corner you can meet,” McClellion said. “I have the Jalen Ramsey mentality. I just believe in myself more than anything, so if you have the confidence in yourself then you can lock up anybody. I can lock up Julio (Jones) if I put my mind to it. That’s how I feel, and that’s how it’s always going to be.
Describe your physical play and what your goal is with the opposing receiver.
“I try to toss him like salad, man,” McClellion said. “I just try to make sure I get physical as possible, and I’m trying to move him like a ragdoll. I’m doing my best.”
McClellion and Montaric Brown are taking on a leadership role along with Kamren Curl in the secondary.
“We’re just making sure we’re doing the right things,” McClellion said. “We’re just making sure we have all the younger DBs like Devin Bush, Greg Brooks, Jalen Catalon, that they know what to do just in case if me or Buster goes down that they can keep the momentum going. We’re just making sure that everyone is doing their job and making sure they’re buying into the process because every play does matter.”
As far as the season is concerned not many people are giving the Hogs much of a chance in the SEC. What are your thoughts on that?
“We’ve got to earn it,” McClellion said. “We’ve got to take everything. Don’t take no team lightly. Every team that tries like underdogs we’re going to let them know we need our respect and we’re either going to give it or take it away from somebody.”
Do you remember the walk from the player’s parking lot to the stadium and back to the practice facility in 12 degree weather?
“I’m from South Florida so when it gets that cold I am all ‘I just want to stay inside and turn the heater on,’” McClellion said. “When it gets that cold, we just have to turn it on and have to always have it locked in to working out, to making sure we give 100 percent, not just checking the box.
“That is what happened to us last year, we just checked the box and that got us 2-10. This year we are not trying to just check the box. We are giving 100 percent, maybe even more because we are trying to go to a bowl game, maybe even bigger than that. That’s why I believe in my team so that is what we have been doing.”
Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, against Portland State in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be the first on the new grass in the stadium.
“I love it,” McClellion said. “I am from South Florida and that’s all we have is grass. We barely have turf on the field so grass is just like home to me – the home state of football. I like everything about, even the jerseys we have coming back.’”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields at 10:05 a.m. on Tuesday.