Gabe McClary is just a laid-back kind of guy who smiles at everything, seemingly taking it all in stride.
So when the we learned recently that the Winter Park wide receiver had quietly racked up three college football scholarship offers, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. No surprise, at least, to those who have seen the 6-foot-3, 190-pound wideout in action.
McClary has early offers from Boston College, North Carolina and Illinois. He’ll be at UCF today to meet the coaching staff.
“Personally, I’m surprised because I have these three [offers] and I see the other kids’ names like Deionte Gaines of Dr. Phillips and Garrett [Johnson] over at West Orange and I was surprised they offered me with those kids like that out there.”
He isn’t saying he thinks those players are better than him. He just figures those players get more attention because of the types of players they are.
“I think we play totally different styles,” McClary said about the comparisons. “Those guys are explosive and quick. I’m not slow, but not super speedy either. I have great confidence in my catching and solid play-making. Those guys are just super explosive and fun to watch.”
No, McClary isn’t slow, especially when it comes to avoiding obstacles. He is currently fifth on the Central Florida track honor roll with a time of 15.56 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles, so it should be no surprise to know that it’s what he does with the ball that McClary says is his best quality. He is also a top-notch triple jumper and has a season best leap of 45 feet, 6 inches.
“My best attribute is yards after catch,” McClary said of the oft-referred to stat of YAC. “I was talking to my fiend about this when looking at my highlight tape. I never go down on the first hit or the first attempt to tackle me.”
He said it is as much his ability to avoid tacklers as it is his physical size to be able to break tackles that attributes to his YAC performances.
“It’s that and I also think that most kids in high school don’t want to tackle a 6-foot-3 guy going full speed,” McClary said.
He’s had 53 catches for 844 yards and five touchdowns over the past two seasons, including 23 catches for 480 yards and two touchdowns as a junior.
McClary is happy to have the offers, but his focus might be well beyond what the football field and traditional gridiron powers have to offer. McClary is all about academics and possibly getting back to his roots in Southern California. He calls USC his dream school, but if an Ivy League school comes calling, there won’t be any more California dreaming.
He currently is trying to regain momentum from a poor class he said this past semester that dropped him to a 3.0 GPA. He scored a 26 on the ACT and plans to retake the test. He will also be taking the SAT in the near future.
“I’d love to go to any Ivy League school and I’ve been talking to the coach at Yale,” McClary said. “I know they can’t offer a full athletic scholarship but I’m willing to listen to what any school that has a great education system has to offer.”
Many of his Southern California ties come from dad’s life as a musician. Thomas McClary was the co-founder and lead guitar player for Commodores, a popular 1970s band, fronted by Lionel Ritchie, that had hit songs like “Brick House” and “Three Times a Lady.”
“I’d love to go out to Southern Cal or Cal Berkley,” he said. “My dad lived out there for a long time and my two sisters were actually born out there. We have a lot of family connections out there with my dad being in the Commodores and all.”
So McClary, who actually had an offer from USF last year but then the Bulls changed coaches, said he’s hoping that USC might come knocking, but if Harvard were to ring the bell, as well, there is no hesitation.
“Oh Harvard .. I would choose the Ivy League route, definitely,” McClary said.
Winter Park faces a transition year as the spring session approaches. The Wildcats will be breaking in a new quarterback, which is likely to be junior-to-be J.P. Colton. Asiantii Woulard and Jeff Whitted shared duties last season, but both are seniors.
“I have a lot of faith in J.P. and I think he’ll step up and throw the ball well,” McClary said. “Me and J.P. and Rafael [Lopes] are very close friends so we don’t have a trust issue or anything, and I don’t have any doubts about his ability.”
McClary, ranked No. 18 in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60, is one of two Winter Park players with scholarship offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Trent Harris, ranked No. 2, has offers from Florida, Florida State, USF, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Boston College, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, and Vanderbilt. Lopes, a slot back ranked No. 36, is still awaiting his first offer.
After his UCF visit today, McClary plans to take in South Carolina’s junior day next weekend (March 23) with Harris.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.