HOOVER, Ala. — The ballroom of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover wasn’t Rolando McClain’s first choice if he were allowed to decide where to spend his Thursday morning.
After a few minutes seated at a raised table in front of reporters at SEC Media Days, the Decatur High School linebacker was in his element.
“They dragged me out of bed and made me come here,” McClain said with a laugh. “No, this is fun.”
The rising junior, consistently ranked among the best at his position nationally, spent close to 20 minutes fielding a variety of questions from dozens of reporters gathered around a table.
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The latest crop of incoming freshmen was among the first McClain was asked about.
“I’m surprised; they are working so hard in the weight room,” he said of linebackers Nico Johnson, Tana Patrick and Petey Smith. “Every day, somebody is calling or texting me asking when are we going to watch film. So that surprises me that they are so eager to learn.”
McClain’s answer to a question regarding offensive lineman Mike Johnson, the other Crimson Tide player attending Media Days drew a chuckle from reporters.
“When I first got here, I thought Mike hated me,” McClain said. “Every day it was like he was going to kill me. But he was just trying to make me better. And when I come in on a blitz, I try to kill him every now and then.”
Coming off a sophomore year in which he collected a team-high 95 tackles and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, the buzz surrounding him has grown louder.
Following the coming season, McClain will be eligible to enter the NFL draft where several football publications have projected him as an early round pick.
But he quickly dismissed any talk of the pros while reiterating his focus on the season at hand.
One topic McClain didn’t mind addressing was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s passion.
“You can ask as many questions as you like about Tebow,” he said. “I like the guy. I mean, I’ve never met him personally. Hopefully, I can see him today. But I like him because of the competitor he is.”