"He's done everything we've asked of him," coach John Fox recently said of McClover. "He's matured a lot as a young man as well as a player, both physically and mentally. He's a guy that we felt real good about at the end of last year, and we're counting on him for this year."
Al Wallace, the longtime No. 3 defensive end in Carolina, was released earlier this off-season in part because the team had faith in McClover. The Panthers also drafted Charles Johnson from Georgia in the third round.
McClover played only two seasons at Auburn, but entered the draft early after his sophomore season to support his family. In hindsight, it's a decision that may have cost him millions. After all, you can't help but wonder if McClover was capable of posting a combined 15.5 sacks as a freshman and sophomore, then how many would he have had as a junior or even a senior?
"You can't really do that because you never know," said McClover. "If I would have stayed I could have got hurt. If I would have stayed I could have put up big numbers. You can always say 'if' to everything. Right now I'm just trying to make the best of it."