Gabe McClary walks around with a huge grin on his face all the time. This weekend, however, it was even wider as he and his father took a short tour of northeast colleges.
They visited Boston College first and the Winter Park wide receiver was so enamored with the school’s academics, it’s football program and its coaching staff that he committed to the ACC Eagles.
“That’s what my dad said, that I had the biggest grin on my face and that I haven’t stopped smiling since Friday morning,” said the young McClary on Sunday night. He said he could hardly contain his B.C. enthusiasm even though he was still visiting Harvard, Yale and Columbia during the northeast swing.
But somehow he kept the news private after telling Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, wide receiver coach Todd Fitch and the rest of the Eagles’ staff on Friday.
“It was like Christmas for him,” said his father, Thomas McClary. “It’s just so nice to see that he’s so comfortable with it and there is a two-way love affair. I’m glad he found something that felt really good to him and now he can enjoy his senior year.”
Sunday night Gabe McClary, the No. 15-ranked player in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60, couldn’t wait any longer. He called about 10:30 from the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport while awaiting a connecting flight to Orlando. He was ready to make public the news that he was officially an Eagle.
He had forgotten one detail, however. About 15 minutes after relaying the news of his commitment, he decided he needed one more day of privacy. The news, he said, needed to first be shared with his teammates. After that, however, the world could know.
“It feels good to know where I’m going and stuff and to not have to worry about it anymore in the off season,” said McClary, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound target who B.C. coaches are thrilled to have joining the bunch on Chestnut Hill.
When asked what it was he liked about Boston College, McClary had a simple answer: “Everything.”
“My dad and I went through all the pros and cons and made a big list and it had about 20 pros and only one con, and that was that it gets cold up there, which I’m not used to,” he laughed.
That, however, is something McClary said he thinks he can overcome given his abundant list of positives.
His main recruiter at B.C. has been Fitch, who enters his second season at B.C. after coming over from USF, where he was on the staff former head coach Skip Holtz. It was at USF where McClary and Fitch began their relationship.
“He’s a funny guy and he’s always going back and forth with the jokes and stuff,” said McClary. “I’ve known him since he started recruiting me my sophomore year. I also asked all the guys [at B.C.] about him and they had nothing but good things to say .”
McClary said the news put the coaching staff in celebration mode.
“They were excited and everybody was jumping around and they were all shaking my hand and stuff, and there was a woman in the lobby who was going crazy, too, even though she didn’t really know what was going on. It was all fun. Everybody was excited.”
Over the past two seasons, McClary had 53 catches for 844 yards and five touchdowns at Winter Park High, including 23 catches for 480 yards and two touchdowns as a junior.
McClary is the second Central Florida player in two recruiting classes to commit to the Eagles, joining Orlando Dr. Phillips safety Matt Milano, who signed in February.
Academics always have been a strong suit for McClary, who takes a 3.5 unweighted GPA into his senior year. He scored a 26 on the ACT, but recently took the test again but has yet to receive those results.
“Gabe was also looking at Harvard and Yale and Columbia and with him being very, very sound academically and wanting to pursue international law, he was concerned that Boston College might not have that Ivy League infrastructure or credentials he was looking for, but, whew … man were we impressed,” said his father Thomas McClary.
“Boston College is very strong academically and so Gabe will be able to get an Ivy League type of education and also compete with some quality teams in that conference (ACC).”
His father, held court with the B.C. coaches while Gabe was hanging out with players. The 63-year-old McClary, who was the lead guitar player for 70’s pop group the Commodores, had Addazio and his staff enthralled with stories from the past.
“Oh yeah they talked for like three hours and I went off with the players,” Gabe said. “When I got back my dad had like the whole staff surrounding him and he was throwin’ out stories from back in the 70’s and 80’s.”
As absorbed as the B.C. coaching staff was with stories from the former Commodores member, the older McClary was equally thrilled about his Boston visit, and they constantly kept mom, Beryl, up on the news back home with texts and phone calls throughout the weekend.
“They really rolled out the red carpet out for Gabe and the passion and the love they showed him was just incredible,” said the father. “It’s one thing to have his position coach be involved in showing him all the love and everything, but the head coach himself was showing he was certainly excited about having Gabe there.”
B.C. has high expectations for McClary, the third receiver who has committed to the Eagles 2014 recruiting class. McClary joins Isaac Yiadom (6-0, 170) of Worcester (Mass.) Doherty Memorial, and slot receiver Thaddius Smith (5-9, 170) of Springfield (Pa.) Cardinal O’Hara.
“They definitely like my size and they have expectations of me coming in and playing early, and that was a big pro on my list of pros and cons,” the receiver said.
Even Monday, McClary was still flashing his perma-grin ear-to-ear as he told his teammates.
“I’m still amped up for B.C.,” McClary said, using an analogy to which his musician father can certainly relate. “Even after a long weekend of traveling I am totally fired up about it.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun