Tide's McLain to Start First Game as Inside Linebacker

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Rolando McClain's teammates have had plenty to say about the freshman inside linebacker poised to start his first game.

Two common themes: He's very big and he's a fast learner. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound McClain was thrust into the starting job with the one-game suspension of Prince Hall.

He's already off to a pretty good start even before his first game.

McClain, who like all Tide freshmen isn't allowed to talk to the media, was rated the nation's Number Two inside linebacker prospect by Rivals.com.

Coach Nick Saban said McClain has "earned the position that he's in." But McClain was thrust into the starting job out of necessity since Hall was the only returning starter at linebacker.

McClain spent much of fall practice working with the first-teamers because of Hall's suspension.

Safety Rashad Johnson said McClain has learned the defense quicker than some of the returning players did during spring practices.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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