Life, in the words of Adam McLean, is a beautiful thing. His new team at Quince Orchard High School, the program's culture, the talent surrounding him on defense and the immense recruiting hype surrounding the 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior defensive tackle are all beautiful blessings.
In just a four-minute interview, McLean used the word beautiful five times. A 20-second clip goes something like this: “Everything is beautiful, you know, the coaching staff — it's really up-tempo. I'm learning so much from the day I got here until now. I've learned so much from the guys and the chemistry, it's unbelievable. It's a great community, great people, great teachers, it's beautiful.”
Suffice it to say, McLean is pleased with his decision to transfer out of Avalon School for “family reasons,” and then briefly to Friendship Collegiate, where he has family members nearby, before finally landing on the Gaithersburg public school.
“I'm just trying to bring effort and a little bit of what I know to the team,” he said. “I'm just trying to bring everything that I possibly know — my talent, and just trying to help the team get a state championship. That's the plan.”
Coach Dave Mencarini knows plenty about getting to M&T Bank Stadium for the state championship. As he would point out several times, however, McLean, no matter how many high Division I scholarship offers (five) he has, does not. It's a process that McLean will have to go through to assimilate into the Cougar program, and it's one that has predictably come with a bit of turbulence along the way.
“They're bumps that are all correctable,” Mencarini said. “It's just getting used to how we do things here from practice expectations to a schematic expectation. He's really talented. He's going to become a good football player. I'm hard on my guys. I have high expectations for them. I think what he's done a really nice job of is; he's really into what we're all about — the system, the program.
“What he and others have to keep in mind that to get to a state championship, there are very few guys here who know how hard that is. He doesn't know. He has no idea what it takes. There are very few guys who understand how hard it is to get there and it's a process and Adam's going through that process right now.”
Part of that process, as it turns out, is getting booted out of practice, as McLean was on Aug. 20 in what Mencarini called “one of the worst” collective team practices he's seen in a decade. But no preseason is perfect, even if it is a two-time defending state finalist bursting with talent at nearly every position.
“I don't want to be a good football team now,” the coach said. “I want to be a good football team in November.”
By November, McLean will likely have settled into his standard role of tackle, and another, rather unique one as an eligible tackle on the goal line package (he caught a touchdown during drills during preseason practice). Up until that point, however, he will continue eating six meals a day, “cutting it up” in the weight room and going through the process.