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“It felt like home:” McClellion relishing chance to play for FSU

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Redshirt junior and Arkansas transfer has two years of eligibility remaining.

Arkansas Spring Game Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There wasn’t much time for defensive back Jarques McClellion to debate options once he opted for the NCAA transfer portal. The former Arkansas Razorback heard from Florida State head coach Mike Norvell in a matter of hours after he entered his name.

“He called and said he wanted me to join the family. I felt special. I was still shocked in the moment,” said McClellion.

From there, it was a simple decision for the Florida native, American Heritage product, and most importantly, lifelong Florida State fan. Moments after receiving the scholarship offer to return to his home state, McClellion called his mom and simply told her, “I’m going to be a Seminole.”

“Being a Seminole has been in my family and in my bloodline,” McClellion said. “Since day 1 when I was a baby, I wanted to play for Florida State… I make sure I keep track of Florida State, just because I am already a fan of them.”

For a young Seminole team that struggled at times during a 3-6 season in 2020, McClellion will bring some much-needed experience to the defensive backfield. In two seasons at Arkansas, he appeared in 23 games and started all 12 contests his sophomore year in 2019.

Considering he opted-out of last season due to COVID-19 concerns, McClellion really is essentially a three-year starter. The redshirt junior still has two years of eligibility left heading into his FSU career. He spoke on why he decided to opt-out of the 2020 season.

“It was a hard decision for me and my family to opt-out. There was COVID situations where I was quarantined twice,” McClellion said. “I felt alone and sad that I was away from home…We just made a family decision and just felt like it would be better if I were closer to home.”

Even though he said Power 5 programs in the state of Florida wanted him at wide receiver coming out of high school, McClellion was more interested in the defensive side of the ball. He said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of several members of his family who played defensive back, including his father at Ohio State.

“My whole family’s background is defensive backs. I didn’t want to be the only one to stand out and be a receiver in the group. I just felt like all of the techniques they taught me at young age.”

Growing up, McClellion had plenty of role models to style his game after, both in his family and from former Florida State stars. The 6-foot, 184-pound defensive back said he even still has his 2013 National Championship FSU hat.

Now that he will be wearing the garnet and gold, he wants to uphold the legacy of past Seminoles.

“It still feels like a dream. But at the same time, I still have to wake up and get up every day, and make sure I work out one-hundred percent, or two-hundred percent. Just how Deion Sanders did, just how Jalen Ramsey did,” said McClellion. “One day I want to be on that same level as them. It’s a blessing but at the same time you still have to work.”

When McClellion joined the team a few weeks ago, he was reminded of the Florida State camp he attended when he was in the sixth grade. After the camp, he actually told his mom that Tallahassee is where he wanted to play in college.

“We drove up here, and when I first stepped on campus, it felt like home…It just felt like home, and nothing has changed, I have family and friends around me in Tallahassee. As soon as I stepped foot back on campus this year, it felt that same way,” McClellion said.

Not only has heading back to his home state of Florida to finish out his collegiate career energized the junior defensive back, but McClellion also appreciates the challenge of helping revitalize the past glory of the FSU football program.

“That was the first thought in my mind, just coming back here and trying to help the team out to be back on the national championship level how they were,” said McClellion.

“I just want to build the best bond with my teammates, my brothers now. And just let them know anything is possible as long as we put our minds to it. As long as we work together, we can do anything.”