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Gators DL Signee Chris McClellan: 'I Have Confidence' in Billy Napier

Florida defensive lineman signee Chris McClellan expresses confidence in Billy Napier and his vision for the Gators program heading into the future.

Photo: Chris McClellan; Credit: Zach Goodall 

With a new coaching staff taking over following the 2021 football season, Florida has started at a disadvantage where acquiring talent is concerned in the 2022 transition class.

Moving to create relationships with committed and uncommitted prospects immediately upon arrival, head coach Billy Napier has moved quickly, but diligently, when evaluating those he looks to build the program around in the future.

Step one of his vision is to man the trenches with skillful big men. A part of that plan is Owasso (Okla.) defensive lineman signee Chris McClellan, who has been a highlight of the attendees in All-American Bowl practice.

McClellan talked to AllGators about his decision to stick with Napier and Florida and what he expects to accomplish in the star-studded contest on Saturday.

"I have confidence in him, and that's why I decided to stick with Florida," McClellan said about Napier when asked about his unorthodox recruitment process.

Committing to the University of Florida during a time of uncertainty — on November 23, just after head coach Dan Mullen had been relieved of his duties and before Napier was officially hired as his replacement — McClellan had expressed confidence in the program.

Falling in love with Gainesville, SI All American's No. 7 DL didn't allow the turnover of the staff who had recruited to that deter him from being where he wanted to be.

Similarly, his feelings that the athletic department could find the correct answer to turn things around has carried over to his confidence in the newly anointed head coach in Napier.

"Obviously, it hurts anybody whenever you lose a staff that recruited you, but coach Napier has a really good head on the shoulders, and he has a great plan."

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It was a plan McClellan saw himself fitting into, and vice versa, with Napier taking the time to connect with the Oklahoma native quickly after he arrived in Gainesville. There, Napier had the opportunity to sell his vision, the program and the intriguing possibility of bringing in a current NFL coach to fill the void at defensive line coach.

That move provided McClellan with excitement, he said.

Seeing the benefits of working under the command of someone who knows what is expected to make the jump from college to the professional level, said he believes it gives him the best chance to be prepared to do so when his time comes.

"I see great light in the future."

In doing so, UF has been provided a valuable head start to their efforts to retool both the offensive and defensive lines heading forward.

Equipped with a stout frame, the 6-foot-3, 295-pound tackle is able to win with pure strength on the inside. Muscling his way through blocks with various power rushing moves, the trench monster has shown promise to be a viable contributor as a 4i defensive end in the Gators three-front scheme during his collegiate career. 

He expedites Florida's efforts to replenish depth up front.

McClellan looks to continue his reign of dominance against some of the nation's top players in the All-American Bowl game Saturday.

"I feel like I've proven I'm one of the better defensive tackles in the country," McClellan said. "Just coming out here and working and winning [in] these one-on-ones. I'm just going hard throughout practice and reps and taking coaching. So, for Saturday, I'm just ready to play, man, and dominate that game as well."

McClellan will turn his attention to his next chapter at Florida immediately after, set to arrive on campus at and enroll at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.