Jan. 11, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama junior linebacker Rolando McClain announced Monday that he would enter the 2010 NFL Draft. The Butkus Award winner was a 2009 team captain and led the Crimson Tide in total tackles in each of the last two seasons.
McClain was a unanimous first-team All-American this season and started at linebacker for Alabama the last three years. The Decatur, Ala., native is just the second Crimson Tide player to win the Butkus Award, joining Derrick Thomas (1988).
Quote from Head Coach Nick Saban: "Rolando McClain has been as great an ambassador for the University of Alabama probably as anyone ever has in terms of how he's represented himself, his family, the University, the state of Alabama and our team. That's not only in terms of being a great football player - probably the best defensive football player in the country, in my opinion, or one of them, and certainly at his position - but he always did things right. He's done a great job academically. His leadership had as much impact on our team and our team's success since he's been here in the last three years - even in his freshman year - as anyone that I've ever been associated with. And we appreciate that.
"I'm not letting out any secrets here, but he is a projected first-round pick. Everybody here knows my philosophy on guys coming out early for the draft, that if you're projected to be that, that's something that I can support you on. I still want Ro - and he's kind of promised me that he's going to do what he can and understands the importance of him getting an education and graduating from school one day. You're always one injury away from retirement when you're a player. But he has my support in terms of what he's doing, and we're going to help him every way that we can as a family of people at Alabama. Even though we would have loved to see him continue to play with us, we're also going to be very supportive in him being able to accomplish the individual goals that he can contribute at the next level and accomplish at the next level, because he's capable of doing it. He can do it, and I'm sure he will do it."
Quote from Rolando McClain: "First of all, I just want to thank Coach Saban and Coach Smart and Coach Willis and really just the entire team for making me a better player. Without these guys, I wouldn't be the man that I am. ... I've decided in the best interests of myself and my family and with the support of Coach Saban that I'm going to enter the NFL draft this year.
"The University of Alabama has been great to me these past three years. I came to school with the goal of being a first-team All-American, winning the Butkus and winning a national championship. I've accomplished those goals, and I think I'm going to leave the University pretty satisfied with what I've done here. I think also that I have a few good linebackers behind me that can come in and contribute in such ways that I did."