The University of Georgia can now boast three elite recruiters on its staff, as running backs coach Bryan McClendon has been named the 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year for the 2014 cycle, following in the footsteps of 2011 winner Mike Bobo and 2012 & 2013 winner Jeremy Pruitt (while at Alabama and Florida State, respectively).
Georgia RB coach Bryan McClendon's haul includes two 247Sports Composite five-star running backs.
“It is an honor to be named 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year,” McClendon said. “Obviously the big kudos needs to go to the University of Georgia, because everything at this institution makes my job a lot easier and allows me to be where I am now.”
McClendon was the primary recruiter of record for nine signees, including a pair of 247Sports Composite five-star tailbacks in Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown) and Sony Michel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./American Heritage) and finished at No. 1 in the 247Sports Recruiter Rankings. While he beat out South Carolina to keep Chubb in-state, McClendon outdid himself with Michel. A local legend since middle school, Michel grew up a fan of the nearby Hurricanes, and Miami made him a priority the moment he touched the field in ninth grade. But, just like two years ago with Tar Heel State standouts Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, McClendon was able to swoop in and snag the elite running back from the Sunshine State powers. He admits this duo was his shining moment in the 2014 class, for obvious reasons.
“Selfishly, I was most excited to get the guys at my position,” McClendon said. “Because I will be able to work with those guys on a daily basis and be responsible for their development.”
On Wednesday afternoon, McClendon solidified his place as the top recruiter in the country with the signing day commitment of five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), beating out Florida, FSU and LSU for the 6-foot-5, 235-pound pass-rusher. With his recruitment lasting over a year, Carter was definitely the target that kept McClendon on pins and needles.
“Zo definitely had me waiting,” McClendon said. “He did let the cat out of the bag early, and then he kind of kept it tight to the vest up until this morning. He probably made me sweat it out the longest and the most. All those guys that hold it down until signing day, you never really feel good until the paper comes.”
On a staff that prides themselves in recruiting as a team, McClendon’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by Bulldogs’ head coach Mark Richt.
“He (McClendon) was tremendous,” Richt said. “He did a great job. Everybody works hard at it, but he certainly had a stellar performance.”
Three other 247Sports Composite four-star prospects in Florida were also reeled in by McClendon, including offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood), defensive end Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee) and wideout Isaiah McKenzie (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./American Heritage), a teammate of Michel that McClendon was able to jump in with an offer just two days ago and beat out Florida, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech for. McClendon was also the primary recruiter of record for JUCO cornerback Shattle Fenteng (Loganville, Ga./Hutchinson C.C.), four-star lineman Kendall Baker (Atlanta/Marist) and three-star wide receiver Gilbert Johnson (Miami/Homestead).
McClendon added five-star DE Lorenzo Carter on Signing Day.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, the 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year for 2011, says there are several factors for the recruiting prowess of the 30-year old McClendon, who just completed his fifth year as running backs coach.
“Obviously, McClendon has helped sign a lot of guys for us,” Bobo said. “He relates well with the guys. That's not because he's young. It's because he works at it. He's always working at recruiting. He's always on the phone. Not just with the kids, but he does a great job with the parents and the coaches. “
Bobo reiterated that it is more than just youth that helps McClendon communicate so well in the homes of prospective student athletes and their families.
“Everybody thinks because maybe you're a young guy you can relate with the players,” Bobo said. “I mean, I related well with all the players when I first started recruiting, but I didn't get all of them. It's working those other people that are involved, and Bryan does a great job of that. He's a great person and a great man, and selling the University of Georgia helps.”
A former four-year letterman at wide receiver for Georgia, McClendon was part of a class that won 44 games, the most in school history, and two SEC Championships. During his five-year tenure as running backs coach, McClendon has worked with SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell, as well as Freshman All-American Todd Gurley.
“I have been in their shoes. I have been a recruit before, so I have visited a bunch of the schools these young men are considering, and I have played against many of the schools as well. A lot of this is about building lasting relationships and pointing out the right stuff during the process.“