|2013 JHS graduate D’Vone McClure will join the Razorback football team in May.|
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
Come August, there will be two Red Devils representing on The Hill. Two-sport high school standout D’Vone McClure announced on Monday that he will walk on as a wide receiver for the Razorbacks after four years in minor league baseball. He will join former high school teammate Kevin Richardson, who will be a redshirt junior and starting defensive back for Arkansas.
McClure signed with the Razorback baseball team in 2012, but opted for the minor leagues when the Cleveland Indians took him in the fourth round and gave him a $750,000 signing bonus.
McClure had also received scholarship offers from several mid-major Division I football programs, and was receiving interest from major programs like Arkansas and Auburn as well, but most of those schools backed away from making official offers, knowing he was practically a lock as a baseball prospect.
His senior year of high school, McClure and his mother Cynthia McClure put together a plan that allowed him to pursue his dream of being a Major League ball player, but also provided a fall back.
“We had a five-year plan, and if I wasn’t at the top of the game in five years, I’d go to college and play football,” McClure told The Leader on Monday. “That’s why I never stressed. I knew I still had football as a fallback, and I’ve always loved football.”
McClure also had a clause in his contract with the Indians that the club would pay for his college if his pro baseball career didn’t pan out, so it’s a win-win for him and the Hogs. His school is paid for, and the Hogs get a DI talent without burning a scholarship.
At 22 years old, McClure will be one of the oldest freshmen in the country.
He’s also considerably bigger than the 190-pound frame his senior year. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he will also be one of the biggest wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference. He also says the 30 pounds of muscle he added as a professional baseball player hasn’t slowed his sub 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life,” McClure said. “I think I’m still in the 4.4 to 4.5 range, but I don’t think speed is going to be as much of a factor for me as my strength. Everybody’s fast in the SEC, but I think I’m going to be difficult physically for those guys.”
There’s also another advantage he’ll bring, and one he knows he would not have had if not for baseball.
“It’s mentally, too, 100 percent. I’m much more mature than when I left high school,” McClure said. “You have to grow up fast because baseball is work. It’s definitely a grind. You got to work every day and it’s work. But it was fun, too. I’ve always loved the game, so I can’t say it wasn’t also fun.”
Arkansas wasn’t the only major program hoping to get McClure. He visited a few others and was considering heavily the University of Arizona. He says he very much enjoyed his visit to a Razorbacks’ spring practice, but proximity to family was the real deciding factor.
“This is home, man,” McClure said. “A big key was my mom. Playing ball in Arizona and Ohio, she never got to see me play, so giving her the opportunity to come see me play was important. That was really the deciding factor.”
McClure will report to campus in late May, and he has plans to make an immediate impact.
“Oh, 100 percent I expect to play,” McClure said. “That was another big factor. Also getting to play with my boy K-Rich. (Kevin Richardson). We were tight all through school and now we get that going again. It’s going to be fun.”