November 24, 2007

McClain impressive in season-ending start

While Alabama fans can take no solace in a sixth consecutive loss to Auburn, Saturday night did provide a major step in the maturation of Rolando McClain.

The freshman linebacker from Decatur made 15 tackles, not only his career-high but also a season-high for the team, in getting his first start since the LSU game. He also made a first-half interception and a 24-yard return, setting up Alabama in its best field position of the night.

"I thoguht he did a great job," He made a great interception and had a lot of tackles out there. I know that he's probably contributed as much as anyone relative to the responsibility he has to the team being the signal caller, being a freshman. ... We're pleased with the progress he's made this year ... and as a future leader of the program."

McClain played the entire game at middle linebacker as Prince Hall - who has started there in losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe - spent the game on the sidelines. McClain finished the season with 70 tackles (fifth on the team), including 4.5 for loss.

Of his 15 stops, eight were solo. By team policy, true freshmen are not permitted to speak with the media.

"McClain played a great game. Baby Ro grew up tonight," said senior linebacker Darren Mustin. "I talked to him after the game and told him, 'Now, this is your team. It doesn't matter that you'll be a sophomore, that you're a freshman now, this is your team'."



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