|Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 1:49 PM- -|
Eric Mac Lain didn’t quite get the exclamation point he wanted on the field in Arizona, but he got the one that really matters back in Clemson.
Mac Lain was a mainstay as Clemson’s starting left guard this past season, helping lead the Tigers to a shot a national title. Clemson lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in Glendale, and Mac Lain took some time to reflect on the season, his career and his personal life.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Mac Lain told TigerNet. “I just did some soul-searching after the loss, which sucks, but not really. I took time to just reflect on the season. I took about a week off, per se, where I was lifting with Batson in Clemson's gym, but I wasn't doing anything too crazy. The following Monday - a week after the national championship - that's when I came down to Chip Smith in Atlanta and we've hit the road running ever since.”
Once the reflection was over, he knew there was a question to ask – asking his girlfriend Kaki Smith for her hand in marriage. The question was how and where, and he came up with a solution. He would ask her at the end of year football awards banquet.
“Towards the end of the season, I knew I was going to do it sometime soon and I was just trying to figure out the right time or the right situation and the banquet just kind of popped into my head and stuck in my head that it would be the last time that all of our families and us - that would be our last Clemson moment,” he said. “I wanted to cap off a great career with an exclamation point. It's been so much of our lives already that it's the perfect way to start our new lives there.”
Smith is the daughter of Clemson Board of Trustees member Bill Smith and the sister of current Clemson tight end Cannon Smith. Mac Lain’s brother Sean is also on the Clemson team as a wide receiver, so Eric looks at it as a chance to join two great Clemson families.
“Both of our brothers are there. Her father was on the national championship team,” he said. “I'm sure there are many other members of her family who went to Clemson. She might be a little bit more Ms. Clemson than I am Mr. Clemson if you think about it. It's in her bloodlines. I created the blood.”
Mac Lain is currently preparing for the NFL Draft, and he said not being invited to the NFL Combine is something he can overcome.
“We weren't 100-percent sure on that with the senior bowl or the combine. Obviously, I'm very disappointed that I didn't get an invite just because you always want to be able to showcase your talent on another stage, but I'm not angry at the people who are in charge of that,” he said. “I am just disappointed that I wasn't given an opportunity to demonstrate my abilities, but I think this year and the people we've played - especially now seeing all of these mock drafts where you're seeing five or six people that are going to be taken in the first round or the top 15 that I played against this year. I have great film out there against these guys. Maybe I didn't need to go to a senior bowl or a combine.”
Instead, he will concentrate on making a good showing at Clemson’s Pro Day next month.
“Just being able to get in front of whoever is there whether it be the GM or some kind of coach and the scouts will be big,” he said. “Just to talk to them for one. I'm pretty good at that - talking my way into anything. I think showing them my quickness in drills. I don't think I'm going to run a 4.4 40 or dazzle them with my numbers, but when I'm doing the individual position specific drills, I think they'll be able to see my quickness and footwork.”
If football doesn’t work out, Mac Lain has a future in talking, whether it’s on camera talking football or becoming a politician.
“People have said politics, radio or TV. I don't know honestly,” he said. “I love helping people, so maybe politics are in my future when I can impact a community. We'll cross that bridge whenever it gets here.”