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Warren McClendon Continues Family Legacy at UGA

By Jim Johnson
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One of the newest additions to Georgia's offensive line, Warren McClendon, is a name that will ring familiar to the red and black faithful.

Georgia, under Sam Pittman, had one of the best offensive lines in college football this season. Thanks to Pittman’s prowess as both a talent evaluator and developer of said talent, that won’t change any time soon.

One of the newest additions to that group, Warren McClendon, is a name that will ring familiar to the red and black faithful. His uncle, Willie McClendon, was one of the great running backs in school history. His cousin, Bryan McClendon, the current offensive coordinator at South Carolina, was a receiver at UGA in the early aughts, prior to coaching their running backs, then serving as the recruiting coordinator, and even taking over as interim head coach following Mark Richt’s departure in 2015.

In other words, the McClendon family is Bulldog royalty. It seemed like foregone conclusion that Warren would continue their legacy in Athens, however it wasn’t easy to say no to his cousin.

“It was a very difficult thing, but he understood where I was coming from just because he was in my shoes, but it was very difficult” he nodded. “It took me a long time to build the courage to even tell him.

He continued, “It came down to Georgia and South Carolina, and I picked Georgia because it just felt like home. When I stepped on campus, I knew this was the place I needed to be. I just wanted to be there and carry on the family ties. The dynasty that Coach Smart is building, I just wanted to be a part of it.”

The 6’4, 320 lb. Brunswick High School product currently boasts a 4-star rating from the 247Sports composite, and is indisputably one of the top prospects in the entire nation. A rare talent at his size, his services have been highly sought after since before he could even drive a car.

On finalizing the recruiting process after all these years, McClendon said, “It is an amazing experience, but you also have to humble yourself, because even though you're getting all the offers and stuff at a young age, none of them are committable. All the coaches are just putting their names in the hat and you just have to keep working until it becomes an official offer.”

However, rather than fall into the trappings and complacency that can come with such notoriety, McClendon always kept it about the work.

“You know, my parents have always been there in my ear telling me, you know you haven't made it yet. Whether this stuff has happened yet or not you still have to keep going and keep pushing. All my coaches have instilled into me that no matter what's going on you can always get better,” McClendon explained.

McClendon doesn’t only get it done between the hashes, though, his presence in the locker room is as large as he is.

Brunswick High head coach Sean Pender recalled, “The first time I ever met Warren, or found out what his character was, what kind of man he was, I had just taken the job. I was going to do a speech and a group of men came in, Warren was just a sophomore, going into his junior year. The whole team came and gathered and at the end, I asked for all the seniors to stay. Everyone that wasn’t a senior got up and left except for Warren.

“He came up to me and asked if he could stay because he knew I was talking about leadership. Warren’s the type of player that is a leader. He leads, not with just words, but with his actions. If you look at the way he carries himself in the halls, the way he carries himself in the classroom, we could all learn from that.”

With what Kirby Smart has already accomplished in his short tenure at Georgia, everyone knows that something big is brewing in Athens. McClendon is as aware as anyone.

“It means a lot to carry on the family legacy up there and be a Bulldog,” he smiled. “I love the staff. They are all great guys and they want to see the best for their players. They are trying to build a dynasty. We're building something special and the class this year is going to be good.”

As far as what kind of player the Bulldogs can look forward to, McClendon simply said, “An amazing player. I'm going to bring a lot to the table and hopefully we can win a National Championship in a couple of years.”

The pieces of the puzzle, this one included, are in place for that to come to fruition in the not-so-distant future. The McClendon family name has become synonymous with UGA -- with greatness. Warren is poised to continue the legacy of one of the royal families in Bulldog lore.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP