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SALT LAKE CITY -- A standard question I ask every recruit I talk to is how fast they are. Almost every recruit reports a 40-yard dash time, which is somewhat the standard for determining football speed.
Too many prospects wildly exaggerate their times, often claiming sub 4.4 forties. Only seven of those participating in the NFL combine last year ran sub 4.4 times, so when a recruit tells me that's his time, well, it's often hard to believe.
Utah recruit Delshawn McClellon proudly claims a 4.37 forty. After seeing him play this past Friday, I'm starting to believe him.
McClellon is a 5-foot-9, 165-pound speed merchant from Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif. He committed to Utah back in June and is currently finishing up his senior season as one of Gahr's two featured players.
Playing alongside Washington commit Dwayne Washington, McClellon does it all for his high school team.
Friday night, during Gahr's 48-8 blowout win over Millikan, McClellon accounted for 10 receptions for 131 yards and three touchdowns with a 42-yard run in the first half. The second half saw him mostly on the sidelines as the Gladiators cruised to an easy victory.
"I feel that I did well tonight," he said after the game. "I was able to get into the open field a bit and use my speed to make some big plays for us. That's what I do."
Gahr's standard play on offense was a receiver slip-screen thrown to McClellon out of their spread formation. The Ute commit would always make the first would-be tackler miss and oftentimes, the second, third and fourth would-be tacklers as well.
"Coaches compare me to DeSean Jackson," he said. "Most of the coaches recruiting me say that I have that same combination of speed and quickness that he does and they see me playing like that for them."
It's this superior combination of speed and quickness that brought Utah coach Norm Chow to Gahr back in May. McClellon won't soon forget that day.
"Coaches told me that Norm Chow was here to see me," he recalled. "At first, I didn't know if I believed them. I mean, Norm Chow? Come on, this has to be a joke."
It wasn't a joke, as McClellon made his first contact with Chow and the Ute football program. For a kid growing up in Southern California, the name "Norm Chow" is hallowed.
"I mean, here was Norm Chow, I mean NORM CHOW asking me to come play for him," he said. "I almost committed right there, but Utah went right up on top of my list, and they've stayed there since."
Chow carries a lot of weight in and of himself given his coaching pedigree. For McClellon, it wasn't just all about Utah's legendary coach, however.
"Utah wins," he said. "They go undefeated and they win their BCS bowl games. That's the kind of program I want to play for. Now that they have Norm Chow there? I couldn't want anything more."
McClellon took a trip to Utah this past June to see the program up close. Hailing from Cerritos, Calif., Utah was quite a bit different than what he was used to.
Gahr has a program without a lot of money coming in. It's located in a rough part of town without even the most basic football facilities such as a locker room.
During halftime of their game against Millikan, the players and coaches just met on the other side of a chain-link fence. There, they went over their halftime adjustments while resting up for their second half of football.
"Oh man, Utah is a lot different than what I'm used to here," said McClellon. "The mountains, the people and everything there. I immediately loved everything about it. The facilities are top-notch and the coaching staff is the best there is."
McClellon left for his trip to Utah with offers from Arizona State, Hawaii and Idaho with increasing interest from UCLA, USC and Washington. Despite all that interest, Utah was the school on top of his list.
"Utah rose to the top right after I first met with Norm Chow and they stayed there," he said. "It didn't matter which school came to contact me and tell me of what they had to offer. None of them sounded as good as Utah, and my trip there confirmed that. It blew me away."
Upon completion of his trip to Utah, he gave them his committment to sign with them.
"I didn't want to wait because Utah had everything that I needed, so I committed to them," he said. "Norm Chow there knows how to get his players to the NFL, and he'll use me in a way to maximize my talents."
Another attractive aspect about Utah is its Pac-12 affiliation.
"That was a key thing for me as well," he said. "I can come back home and play back here in Los Angeles, which is a big thing for me. Like I said, Utah has everything I could ever want in a program."
While at Utah, McClellon hopes to reprise and build upon what he does for Gahr.
"I can beat a defense at anytime on offense and on special teams," he said. "I bring a lot of excitement to the field, but I'm also a team player. I can't wait to get to Utah because we're going to get it done. We're going to play with the best in the Pac-12 and beat the best. I believe that."
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