As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
At the time of his recruitment, many saw McClover as just the latest in a long pipeline between Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School and Auburn University. All Americans Frank Sanders and Brian Robinson along with stars like Calvin Jackson and James Bostic had been key members of Auburn’s early success under Terry Bowden. Auburn had to fight in-state Florida and Miami hard for McClover’s signature, but he decided to become part of a long line of talented pass rushers to play for Tommy Tuberville.
McClover would of course later claim that he was paid improper benefits to come to Auburn as part of the HBO Real Sports “documentary”. McClover’s former teammates, and his former high school coach, would end up speaking out against McClover’s involvement in the documentary, as it seems that he leveraged information on Auburn for coverage of his charity. To those of us that were in Auburn at that time, it’s not surprising the best quote on it came from Bret Eddins:
“If he had money, it must have been in a Roth IRA or something.”
While McClover was much more easily recognizable, he was overshadowed at Auburn by Quentin Groves, the other pass-rushing specialist. Groves eventually developed into a player that could stay in the game against the run, while McClover never developed into much of a run-stopper. After red-shirting in 2003 (McClover was a partial qualifier, so he was allowed to practice while he showed that he could complete college coursework), he gradually broke in as a pass-rusher later in 2004. His best games came in the middle of the season between the Louisiana Tech and Georgia games, where he managed 5.5 sacks, 6 hurries, and forced 2 fumbles.
After again struggling to start 2005, McClover came on fire at the end of the regular season. He finally got his first sack of the season on November 5th at Kentucky, and he would have at least one sack in every remaining game of the season. In his final 4 games, the man we called The Predator had 18 tackles (TEN of them behind the line of scrimmage) and 7.5 sacks. His final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium would be his best, picking up 3.5 of the 11 sacks Auburn would register against Alabama. McClover beat Chris Capps so bad in this game that I remember his name. He was just some dude who played left tackle for Alabama in the Shula years. Though given how this game goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave up football afterwards.
After the bowl game, McClover decided to cash in on his four game run and put his name in the NFL draft. Unfortunately, he was still a bit unpolished as a pass-rusher, and his run-stopping was negligible. Carolina would draft him in the 7th round, and to date the most notable part of his Panthers tenure is that the Panthers drafted his brother, Brian Burns, in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He finished with 12 tackles and 1 sack in his career. After being waived by the Panthers, he attempted to catch on with the Texans, but he never registered a stat for them.
Making big plays in the Iron Bowl can define a player’s career. Just ask Tre Smith. If all Stanley McClover is every really known for is racing past some poor over-matched Alabama offensive tackle, it was all still worth it.