Football: Evergreen Park’s Jacquet McClendon brings the total package
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org September 24, 2013 9:10PM
Evergreen Park's Jacquet McClendon gets away from North Chicago's Khalil Rodgers during the IHSA Class 4A first round game in North Chicago on Saturday, October 27, 2012 . | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
YEAR REC. YDS. TDS
2013 25 295 2
2012 27 621 7
2011 14 321 2
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:16AM
Jacquet McClendon grew up a big fan of Peyton Manning.
In fact, the Evergreen Park senior remains a huge supporter of the Denver Broncos quarterback.
It was when Manning was playing in Indianapolis when McClendon had a rather life-altering moment.
“I was in fifth grade and I was watching the Colts play. I looked at my height and my weight and I thought to myself, ‘I can be good at this game,’ ” McClendon said.
McClendon signed up to play for the Evergreen Park Stallions and fell in love with the sport. By the time he entered seventh grade, however, he grew to 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, exceeding the league’s weight limit.
“I just started working out and got stronger,” McClendon said of not being able to play in seventh and eight grades. “I love working out.”
McClendon’s self-evaluation, though, was correct. Not only was he good at football, he’s developed into one of the Southland’s best receivers at Evergreen Park.
His combination of size — he’s 6-2, 225 pounds — speed and strength make him a difficult match-up for most secondaries.
“If my quarterback throws it anywhere near me, I’m going to go get it,” said McClendon, a three-year starter.
His pass-catching abilities have earned him the nickname “MegaQuet” from classmates, a nod to Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, aka “Megatron”. McClendon, though, is more a fan of Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, an exceptional talent whose off-the-field behavior early in his pro career earned headlines.
McClendon has learned from Bryant’s missteps.
“Your reputation is very important,” McClendon said. “You have to keep it clean.”
McClendon has yet to decide on a college, though Purdue and Vanderbilt rank high on his list. With a 3.1 grade-point average (4.0 scale) and 24 on the ACT, McClendon has assured of meeting academic requirements to most top colleges.
Academics always have been important to McClendon, something his father, Jacquet, and mother, Dawanda Reeves, have made priority No. 1.
“They both make sure I’m doing well in class,” said McClendon, who plans to major in biophysics or criminal justice, with hopes of working for the FBI. “That’s what’s most important. My mom’s on me every day about grades.”
Evergreen Park was one step away from reaching the Class 4A state title in 2012, but suffered a 23-7 semifinal loss at home to Alleman. A year earlier, the Mustangs dropped a 7-0 decision to Richmond-Burton in the quarterfinals. With the installation of FieldTurf during the summer and a 4-0 record (1-0 in the South Suburban Red) to date, expectations are high for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs travel Friday to perennial power Richards (4-0, 1-0) for a South Suburban Red showdown.
“Advancing to the semifinals was the best thing that’s ever had happen to me,” McClendon said. “The bleachers were packed. People were standing around. It was an incredible experience.
“First and foremost, we want to make the playoffs and win a state championship, But I really want to beat Richards and win a conference championship.”