Three times in the past two weeks, Anthony McClung watched film of himself being lit up by an opposing defender. He insists two of the three didn't feel as bad as they looked.
Although, that analysis doesn't mean much, considering all three came with all the gentle nature of a date in the octagon with Anderson Silva.
McClung's hauled in three catches the last three weeks where a vicious hit arrived along with the ball. All three possessed one common thread, not only did McClung hang on to the ball against all rules of force and mass, he popped before the defender handing the ball calmly to the referee.
At 6-foot, 172 pounds, McClung doesn't exactly tip the scales of intimidation. Yet, his reputation as the tough guy of the Bearcats receiving corps grows.
"I hope so," said McClung, asked if he's view as the tough guy. "It gets the momentum going for the offense to make a big play. It's just a momentum changer."
The junior caught 21 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown this season. No shortage of big hits come with the territory of returning punts as well, which he's done 14 times for 158 yards. But rarely can an offensive player steal momentum from a defensive player after the play has been completed. That's exactly what McClung and his ability to hold on to the ball during extreme violence provides.
The concept begins with a standard of the UC football program that the the Bearcats will always be the first one up after any play.
"I guess it's kind of like instinct," McClung said. "As we all know coach Jones always says, 'First up.' It is kind of a mentality thing. I am just trying to pop up as quickly as I can and get lined up fast."
Twice against Syracuse he popped up following big hits, both on shorter routes. Against Temple, he ran a fade down the sideline and held on to a 29-yard gain despite the safety nearly taking his head off.
He won't deny that one was the worst.
"I played the ball in the air," he said. "As soon as I touched it he just laid me out. It was a great play. I am not taking nothing from him. I just got to worry about what I can control which is the ball in the air, so I just try to make a play on the ball."
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