With a new coach taking over the football program at Indiana State University, Jacquet McClendon wasn’t sure what to expect.
A new offense for the team and a position change for the Evergreen Park High School graduate were all in the works, and McClendon made the most of it for Indiana State as a senior, finishing with 54 receptions, 595 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
With a chance to continue his dream of playing in the NFL, McClendon participated on May 4-7 at the Kansas City Chiefs rookie mini-camp.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to get the opportunity,” McClendon said. “I wanted to be myself and do what I love to do. I knew I could get here. I tried to follow the right path and put in the work.”
A 2014 Evergreen Park grad, McClendon helped the Mustangs to a pair of their strongest seasons in program history. EP made the state semifinals in his junior year and the quarterfinals in his sophomore season.
However, after arriving in Terra Haute, Ind., McClendon had to put in the time and carve out a niche for himself. In his first two seasons, he caught 16 balls for 188 yards. He broke out somewhat in his junior year with 23 catches for 283 yards and 2 scores.
In McClendon’s senior year, Coach Curt Mallory took over the program. Running a pro-style offense, Mallory made McClendon a key player in the passing attack but not in the local star’s usual position at wide receiver.
The 6’1”, 235-pound senior was moved to tight end.
“With the new coaching staff and the new offense, Coach Mallory said I’d be more involved,” McClendon said. “I wanted to put my name on the map.”
The position shift was huge for McClendon who said he now sees the game differently. He’s not just running routes; he’s become more of an all-around player.
“Moving to tight end, you’re blocking and catching. You learn a lot more about the game,” McClendon said. “You’re in the trenches blocking, and you get a whole view of the game. Running that pro-style offense, I feel like I increased my IQ on the game.”
McClendon said he will keep working to make the pros.
“I’m definitely a very competitive person,” McClendon said. “I hate losing, and I’m a hard worker. I’m a natural leader, and I can lead vocally or by example. I’ve got the opportunity to play in the NFL. I just needed to get my foot in the door.”