Five years ago, Brandon McCladdie was part of a very special football season for the Evans Knights. The versatile McCladdie was a standout wide receiver and defensive back for an Evans team that went 10-1 and won a region championship.
That season McCladdie was named All-County, All-Area, and All-Region. He even got a football scholarship to attend The Citadel. Despite all his prep success (he was a four-sport standout), I do not think anyone envisioned McCladdie becoming a pro prospect.
Let’s face it, even among college football players, the number that play professionally is minuscule. Well, we underestimated Brandon McCladdie, because he has spent the last four years doing exactly that, becoming a pro prospect. Recently, www.nfldraftprospect.com listed McCladdie as the No. 92 cornerback prospect among 265 they will be tracking this season.
The 6-1, 190-pound McCladdie spent the 2009 season as a redshirt. Then, in 2010, he began the season as a backup, but by the end of the year he was starting in the Bulldogs’ secondary. Now the former Evans standout is a leader for The Citadel defense. He has started all 22 games over the last two seasons.
A year ago is when he really came into his own. He had 45 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He rose to the occasion versus the best competition as well. In the Bulldogs’ upset of No. 3 Georgia Southern, he recorded five tackles and two forced fumbles to help secure the win. For his efforts, McCladdie was named second team All-Southern Conference. He has played in all 33 games over the last three seasons (24 starts), and has racked up 104 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six interceptions, and six forced fumbles.
McCladdie has worked hard off the field. Last year, he was one of only 54 players in the nation to be named to the FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star Team. McCladdie has also graduated with a degree in business administration. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in The Citadel’s graduate school. I would say his decision to attend The Citadel was a good one. While a career in the NFL is still a long shot, McCladdie is on the radar of NFL teams. He has exceptional size to play corner in the NFL. He has gained a reputation as a very physical player and his speed (4.5 in the 40- yard dash), while not off the charts for his position is certainly good enough. I have no idea if McCladdie will play in the NFL, CFL or Arena Football professionally. What I do know is he got a top-flight education and will be a success in whatever career path he chooses to take.
McCladdie has been named to the Southern Conference’s second team All Pre-Season Squad by the SoCon sportswriters. He and the Bulldogs open the 2013 season at home versus Charleston Southern on Aug. 31 .
For those Evans fans who might want to see McCladdie in action this fall, The Citadel will be playing at Georgia Southern on Oct. 12 and at Clemson on Nov. 23.
Thanks for all the feedback about my column regarding baseball stats/records in the county that will be tough to break. Well, I had several terrific entries emailed to me by readers. I decided to pull out the best of the bunch and put it in today’s column.
This one comes from that incredible 2006 Greenbrier team. The squad went 35-1 and claimed the state title. Stars on the team included future draft picks Jeff Rowland, Rich Poythress and Brandon Cumpton. Also, Greenbrier legend Nolan Belcher. Well, another great player that season was Chris “Fud” Johnson. Johnson was named Columbia County Hitter of the Year that season after belting 13 home runs and driving in 45 runs. Here is the amazing and likely never-to-be-broken record: Johnson, a switch hitter, hit seven homers from the left side of the plate and six long balls while hitting right handed. Switch hitting is somewhat of a lost art, so there are fewer and fewer switch-hitters at the high school level, but even if it were a growing trend, to hit 13 total and almost an equal amount from both sides of the plate is astonishing. Johnson currently plays at Paine College.