August 27, 2008

Maclin back to the scene of the breakout

It is tough for a college football fan to avoid Jeremy Maclin these days. Here he is featured in USA Today. There he is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Heck, he was even in Playboy (the part with words and articles), so even the non-football fan has probably seen him.

Strange to think 12 months ago this week, he wasn't even atop the depth chart, much less magazines coast to coast.

"How about that?" Gary Pinkel asks. "Isn't that amazing?"

"A little bit," Maclin said when asked if he has stopped to think about the last year of his life. "I try to look past that."

You won't get much more than that. Maclin is good. He knows it. But he's not going to spend his time telling you about it.

Last year, Maclin put on a ridiculous show against the Illini, scoring two third-quarter touchdowns to put the Tigers up 24 points. A coming out party?

"I guess. If that's what you want to say," he says. "I think it was the team's coming out party, more importantly."

Modesty isn't the only trait Maclin is trying out this year.

"I'm in the starter's role this year and I've got different expectations of myself," he said. "I need to play more of a leader role."

In that vein, Maclin said he has spoken in front of the entire offense one time this month, and on numerous occasions to "my receiving corps." Part of his job is bringing along four true freshmen that may see action in the Illinois game at wide receiver or tight end.

"I don't think you can really teach the atmosphere," Daniel said. "We'll practice with sound on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and make it extra loud so we can get communication problems fixed, but they're going to be wide-eyed."

But which one is ready to break out? Which second-stringer will have Tiger fans buzzing on Sunday morning?

"I want to say all of them," Maclin said. "I think of all of them have shown flashes to be great playmakers out there."

They certainly have a good example to follow. Chances are, the best candidate to be this year's Jeremy Maclin is, well, Jeremy Maclin. What the increasingly humble Maclin won't say, Daniel will:

"Other teams wish they had a guy like that."

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