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Player Preview: JuTahn McClain

(Photo: © @JuTahn

(Photo: @JuTahn)

We stay on the offensive side of the football to continue our profiles of the 2020 recruiting class and next up is a quick, slashing back from just north of Cincinnati. JuTahn McClain rushed for 1,947 yards during his senior season and is bringing a different element to UK’s backfield.

To bolster the position, Kentucky went back to Ohio to land a back with a ton of skills and potential. McClain is brining some lightning to Eddie Gran’s positional room.

Background

JuTahn McClain is a 5-foot-9 and 180-pound tailback that was rated as a high three-star prospect per the 247 Sports composite. Kentucky was the first school to offer the all-purpose back, but many others followed suit. Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State all extended offers in fall of 2018 in addition to Missouri, Purdue, Louisville and a handful of others. After taking his official visit to Lexington in June, McClain immediately committed to Kentucky and Vince Marrow scored another big recruiting win. He was so important that UK decided to visit him twice since the regular season ended.

It’s clear that he was a very highly valued recruit by the staff and is currently a top-10 prospect in the state of Ohio. This was a very nice recruiting win that got Kentucky some very positive momentum on the trail over the summer.

The Football Player

JuTahn McClain is a big play back who really just needs one small crease to create a big play. The tailback averaged over eight yards per carry this season on his way to scoring 21 touchdowns for the Fairfield Indians. Despite this big play ability, McClain shows some really good patience on his high school tape that allows his blockers to do their jobs before letting his skill and athleticism take over. This is something we’ve heard Eddie Gran preach about hundreds of times. He has the ability to run through tackles and that is something very promising to see for a guy his size. Similar to what we saw with Boom Williams and at times with Kavosiey Smoke, McClain has the ability to turn a routine inside zone play into a chunk play for the offense on nearly every carry.

During his high school career, McClain recorded over 40 receptions and did it in a multitude of ways. The prospect is really dangerous on the typical running back slip screens, but was also used split out at times as a slot receiver. Before Terry Wilson’s injury, we saw A.J. Rose being heavily involved in the passing game and it is quite possible that McClain could be one of the best pass catching threats at running back on the roster.

McClain also has the ability to impact the game in the return department and his junior tape shows plenty of kick return highlights. With Lynn Bowden Jr. moving on to the NFL, Kentucky has a void to fill in the return game. Punt returns are a question, but McClain has flashed a ton of production and potential in the kick return game. It could be a way for him to get on the field as soon as possible in what is a loaded running back room.

Impact

Kentucky has recruited running backs very well and it appears that both Christopher Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke are going to have chance to be really good. With A.J. Rose returning, UK has plenty of options at tailback in 2020 and that should give JuTahn McClain plenty of development time, but there is no denying the physical tools.

The big play back brings a lot to the table and can impact the game in many ways. Not only can he do it the traditional way of carrying the football, but also in the pass game and on special teams. It’s been a minute since Kentucky has had a back that could impact the game at this many levels and McClain has the ability to do that if he reaches his ceiling.

Kentucky Football 2020 Recruiting Class Player Previews: Izayah Cummings, Earnest Sanders, Justin Rogers

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR