Melvin McBride surprised many when he chose the Vols as his college destination earlier this week. But the Vols now have a player in their 2019 recruiting class with immense potential according to his high school head coach.
McBride is currently rated as the No. 430 overall player and No. 17 player in the state of Tennessee according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He plays for the powerhouse known as Whitehaven over in Memphis, and many had considered him an Arkansas or Louisville lean for a while.
But McBride, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive lineman, ultimately committed to Tennessee. And according to Whitehaven head coach Rodney Saulsberry, the Vols are getting quite the steal.
“His upside is just through the roof because he’s going to take to coaching,” Saulsberry told me in a recent interview. “Coach (Will) Friend on the offensive line has a student that’s coming, and he can mold him however he wants.”
One reason McBride’s upside is so high is because he’s already as good as he is even though he’s only been playing football for about two years now.
“He was a kid that in middle school was focused on basketball,” Saulsberry explained. “He may have gone out and played football for a day I think. He said ‘It’s not for me, I’m just going to focus on basketball.’ As a freshman here he played basketball, but as a sophomore we were like, ‘Nah man, you gotta come out and you gotta play football.’ He came out as sophomore and just learned what the game was about, and as a junior he hit the field and it was like ‘this is amazing’ what this kid turned into in his first year on the field playing football.
“The upside is so tremendous, and his ceiling is so high that Tennessee should be extremely excited about what they’re getting.”
McBride has quickly gone from focusing on basketball to plowing through defenders on the football field. He saw his stock explode over the spring and summer of this year, and according to Saulsberry that’s all because of his work ethic.
“That’s one thing I love about him is that he’s a worker,” Saulsberry said. “He’s a true testament of a worker. He’s a sponge for knowledge. He really digs deep and tries to learn as much as he can. He studies film, and he’s willing to accept coaching too.”
Saulsberry added that McBride worked with NFL Pro Bowler Willie Anderson down in Atlanta for a week as well. So not only has McBride put in the work at his high school, but he’s trained with someone who knows what it takes to play football at the highest level.
Speaking of his high school, McBride isn’t going up against scrubs on the practice field either. Saulsberry stated that Whitehaven currently has “10 to 12 guys” with FBS offers, and that includes players like four-star athlete Keveon Mullins, three-star tight end Cormontae Hamilton, and three-star athlete Devin Boddie in the 2019 class. Whitehaven also has four-star linebacker Bryson Eason, four-star linebacker Martavius French, three-star offensive tackle Ray Curry Jr., and three-star safety Tamarion McDonald as juniors this year.
Saulsberry says Whitehaven operates with an “iron sharpens iron” mentality in practice. And it’s because of that and McBride’s drive to better himself that he saw this kind of attention coming McBride’s way.
“You could just see it coming,” Saulsberry said of the increased interest in McBride this past year. “He just has such a passion for learning. A man that size running the way he ran, the power he displays on the field, you just see it coming.
“I just told him to be patient and when you get the opportunity to go to camps and to show yourself, just go all out and give it all you have. And he did just that.”
McBride attended several camps over the summer, and one of those was at Tennessee. He impressed Tennessee’s coaches so much at the camp that they offered him on the spot.
And two months later, McBride chose Tennessee as his future home.
“He fell in love with it, and he fell in love with the opportunity,” Saulsberry said. “The coaching staff continued to pursue him, and now they’ve come out on top.”