College: North Carolina State
Birthday: February 21, 1983
Former North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers earned his place as a first-round draft pick, but he also benefited from having T.A. McLendon in the backfield. Whenever the Wolfpack ran a play action pass with a fake handoff to McLendon, the defense would have to respect the threat posed by the running back, giving Rivers’ receivers an extra moment to get open. NC State has won every game (7-0) in which McLendon has rushed for at least 100 yards, as compared to 60% (12-8) of the rest of the games during the last two years.
McLendon missed four games last year, but when he played for almost a full season in 2002, he posted 1,101 rushing yards, 354 receiving yards, and 18 touchdowns. He is a bowling ball of a runner who leaves many broken tackles in his wake, but also has enough speed to get outside and turn the corner on sweeps. McLendon is tough to stop in short yardage situations and has a nose for the end zone, as shown by his 29 touchdowns in 22 games. He is also a capable receiver.
McLendon’s greatest shortcoming is his inability to stay out of the trainer’s room. As a freshman he bruised his shoulder and broke his wrist, and as a sophomore he missed four games with a patella tendon strain, a strained hamstring, and a torn meniscus. McLendon bristles at the suggestion he is soft, pointing out that he played with his wrist in a cast and returned to action the week after knee surgery to put up 112 rushing yards and 104 receiving yards against Virginia. Regardless of his mental toughness, his body does not seem to be able to take the beating through which he puts it.
Until he can prove that he can stay healthy over an extended period of time, McLendon must be considered a high-risk prospect. He is the type of physical runner that ball-control coaches (like Dom Capers) covet, but if he can’t stay on the field his talent is irrelevant.
(profile written by Warren DeLuca)
T.A. McLendon’s 2003 Stats G CAR YDS AVG TD 9 130 608 4.7 13 T.A. McLendon Home