Jalan McClendon will play quarterback at some point this season for N.C. State. The redshirt freshman doesn’t know exactly when, neither does coach Dave Doeren, but McClendon knows he will be ready.
“I’m preparing like I’m the starter every day,” McClendon said.
The plan is for McClendon to be senior Jacoby Brissett’s backup this season. After that, the 6-foot-5, 212-pound redshirt freshman from Charlotte will have a chance to be the Wolfpack’s starter for the next three years.
Doeren said he hopes to get McClendon meaningful reps, if not in the opener against Troy on Sept. 5, then sometime before the ACC schedule begins on Oct. 3. It’s not something Doeren will script but rather go by feel.
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“I’d love to get him in, but I’m not going to walk into the game and say, ‘You’ve got this series,’” Doeren said.
“He’ll be hot on the sideline, and he’ll be ready to go. If we’re dead and we need a change, we can do that or if we’re up and we can get him valuable minutes, we’ll do that.”
For now, McClendon’s trying to learn as much as he can of the playbook and from Brissett, a fifth-year senior who threw for 2,606 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.
“I’ve learned from Jacoby what to do and what not to do,” McClendon said.
Brissett’s primary role is to lead the offense, but in the back of his mind, he understands the importance of helping McClendon, a pro-style quarterback, prepare for next season and beyond.
“Each year, a quarterback has to learn more, and he has been willing to learn,” Brissett said. “Jalan wants to learn.”
McClendon was impressive in the spring game against N.C. State’s first-team defense, completing 13 of 24 passes for 117 yards. He had a few other spectacular throws that ended with a drop by his receivers.
That was a good learning tool, Brissett said.
McClendon also picked up some valuable lessons in managing the play clock in the spring game. The former West Mecklenburg star wasn’t getting out of the huddle fast enough, Doeren said. McClendon has done a better job with that in camp, the coach said.
McClendon’s approach to the season, and his preparation, will be key to his development, Doeren said.
“He needs to prepare like Jacoby can’t play,” Doeren said. “If he prepares like he’s the starter, next year won’t be as big of a deal to him. But if he sits back like, ‘Ah, I’ve got time,’ next year will be hard.”
McClendon has already impressed Brissett with his strong arm and raw ability. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.
“I can’t wait to see him play,” Brissett said.
After sitting out last season, it’s no longer a question of if for McClendon but when.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio