Early Entry Review: McClellan has completely bought in

May 30, 2022 | 0 comments


Chris McClellan’s road to Florida could be described as a bit unusual, but his commitment to the Gators and himself are quickly paying dividends for the early enrollee.

A four-star defensive lineman from Owasso, Okl., McClellan committed to Florida in November, despite Florida not having a head coach at the time.

Despite that, McClellan has bought into the new staff and himself during his short time in Gainesville, according to his personal trainer.

Outside of Florida, McClellan works with Ricky Bolton Jr., the Director of Athletic Performance for his own LLC.

Bolton Jr., who comes from the collegiate level in strength and condition and has trained professionals including Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson, has worked with McClellan for the last four months.

In the short time Bolton Jr. has worked with McClellan, he says that McClellan’s agility and quickness impressed him the most and describes him as a “dancing bear.”

“I’m able to do a lot more things with him and cross paths with a lot more training modalities than I am with a regular athlete,” he added. “The guy is stellar at what he does movement-wise.”



This agility and quickness remind Bolton Jr. of a former nine-time Pro Bowler and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“Measurements are a little off here, but movement and tenacity of Julius Peppers in my opinion,” he said. “I know he’d have to be on the edge, but that’s kind of what I would compare him with. Moves great, super smooth, super agile. That would probably be my comparison.”

McClellan committed to Florida in late-November after Dan Mullen had been fired. With Billy Napier and staff arriving less than a week after his commitment, McClellan decided to stick with the Gators and signed with Florida on Early Signing Day.

According to Bolton Jr., Napier’s relationship with McClellan has been positive in the short time they have been together.

“(McClellan) told me that Coach (Napier) really believes in him. He told me that Coach really helps him get better, wants to lay things out to help him go to the next level,” he said. “It’s honestly different to hear that because most guys I do get to coach that has a position coach, they don’t really get to have that relationship with their head coach just cause it’s so many pieces. For him to basically come down to his players’ level and create that buy-in is special to me. When he told me that, that’s all I needed to know about Coach Napier.”

With the new staff came overhauls in nutrition, parking, and living arrangements, which had been issues under the previous staff. According to Bolton Jr., McClellan hasn’t shared anything the older players may have said about the old staff, but that he has been impressed with what new staff has provided.

“He’s basically said that his accommodations have been amazing,” he explained. “The only thing that he does keep telling me is how excited he is for the new facilities that are coming up. No mention of anything from the past, just an excited and humble kid.”



Since arriving in Gainesville, McClellan has improved on buying in, not only into the new staff, but into how he trains.

“What he’s improved on since getting in there and being blessed to be there early is his work ethic,” he said. “When I first got him, he was basically really green as he’s super talented and able to do a lot of things that I lay out strategy-wise. He didn’t understand what threshold he needed to reach. After getting in early and coming back, now I lay it out and he’s crushing everything.”

There is a multitude of examples under the previous staff where true freshmen did not play no matter how talented they were. As McClellan enters his true-freshman season, Bolton Jr. says McClellan understands what it takes to earn early playing time under the new staff.

“First and foremost, Chris, since he left in the beginning, has always told me he doesn’t want to go anywhere he doesn’t have to grind for his shine and his spot,” he said. “He’s a team-first guy. He’s letting me know he’s buying into the process.”

“Getting there and actually getting to eliminate that stigma, that’s one of the reasons he’s bought in with the new staff,” Bolton Jr. added. “He gets to work for it. He gets to understand why he isn’t number one on the depth chart, but why he is number three or wherever he fits in.”

Additionally, Bolton Jr. says McClellan has not only bought into the staff, but into his role on the team.

“He told me he’s actually, this is how much his buy-in has changed, he wanted to be on the edge. Now, he’s just bought into to wherever he can get on the field,” he said. “That’s a major viable part of a great adaptable player, and that’s what he is. Chris is a very adaptable player which will give him more chances on the depth chart.”

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