With change comes opportunity for a clean slate. For Utah receiver Delshawn McClellon, a fresh start this spring with new receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield might be all that the explosive and potentially electrifying receiver needed.
"Delshawn's probably been the most consistent (this spring)," said Stubblefield. "You know, we chart catches, we chart explosives, we chart missed assignments every day and Delshawn is leading beside fan favorite (Kenneth) Scott. (McClellon) is number two in the catch chart."
According to Stubblefield, McClellon is number one in explosiveness and least amount of missed assignments. It is important to remember that McClellon has shown flashes of elite play in camp before, so it is of great importance for him to maintain his current production.
"The jury is still out," admits Stubblefield. "I think the biggest thing for Delshawn is going to be himself. The difference between average and good and good and great is your mind-mental toughness-and I think with Delshawn that's always been a question, but so far (he's come) out a little banged up, a little tired, and he fought through it-so that was good to see."
Aware of what has plagued him in the past, McClellon is doing his best to change that perception.
"Just don't be hard on yourself when stuff starts going bad," he said. "I think last year was really a mental thing for me. I think both on and of the field, mentally I just wasn't really there. This year I just kind of re-gathered myself and I'm doing better."
Last offseason, McClellon was initially expected to be a mainstay in the receiver rotation. He left his mark on the 2013 spring with a jaw-dropping 70+ yard touchdown in the spring game and then followed that up with a good first week of fall camp. Then everything fell apart.
"I felt like when I started doing bad, I stopped getting plays, so I feel like my confidence just went down," admitted McClellon. "I mean, it's a fresh start (now), I got my confidence back, so now I feel like everything's flowing how I want it to go now."
In the past, McClellon would get down on himself because he has high expectations. He has that competitive drive where he wants to be the best, no matter what he is doing. "I just want to be the best at everything-straight up. I just want to be the best, whether we're playing tic-tac-toe, rock-paper-scissors. I just want to win," he said.
During his time in the program, McClellon has forged a strong bond with fellow receiver Kenneth Scott. Having the Utes' unquestioned leader back and healthy has also done wonders for McClellon's confidence.
"K Scott, he's really a mentor for me because I feel like he went through the same thing I've been through since he's been here his freshman year, where he wasn't getting the plays he needed," he said. "He's a good dude, just a really good mentor to me."
Now with a clean slate, a new outlook, and his mentor back by his side, McClellon has begun to make a splash this spring. Best of all-Stubblefied's numbers do not lie-he is doing it with consistency.
"Right now they're using me in a lot of open field stuff and downfield stuff-pretty much," he said. "I'm just pretty versatile. I can do it all, really."
McClellon has no preference on where he lines up-he just wants the ball. Line him up in the slot, line him up inside, or line him up in the backfield. He is just itching to make plays and help the offense. Due to his explosiveness, he has that breakaway speed that is much needed in new Offensive Coordinator Dave Christensen's offense. For as much as McClellon likes going deep, he really relishes turning a short pass into a big gain.
"I like shaking more, I like (pulling a move on) a dude more," he said. "I feel like it's more personal when you're looking at somebody in their eyes, come up to them, and shake them."
With a mindset like that, McClellon and Stubblefield are on the same page. "If you just make a small play, it leads to big plays," emphasized Stubblefield.
Good things appear to be happening with Utah receivers this spring and McClellon wants to assure the fans that they will see consistency and great improvement. "I just want them to be ready and I when I get the ball, there's going to be some good things-when any receiver gets the ball, there's going to be some good things," he said.
Editor's Note: Michelle Bodkin also contributed to this article.