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6th Round: Matt McCants


OVERVIEWA late bloomer who was playing tuba in his high school band before joining the football team as a senior, McCants went on to become one of the top offensive performers in Blazers history. The fifth-year senior made up for lost time after missing the 2008 season due to academic ineligibility, going on to start 42 games at UAB before concluding his career by competing vs. the nation's best when he accepted an invitation to play in the prestigious 2012 Senior Bowl.

McCants has a lean, wiry frame for an offensive lineman, much like Buffalo's Demetrius Bell as a rookie, but he has room to add needed bulk without it impacting one of his better assets – explosion off the snap. He is a nice fit for a team emphasizing zone blocking schemes, where he can better utilize his long reach and quickness in getting off the snap on traps and pulls.

When McCants played in the 2012 Senior Bowl, it was a homecoming for the lineman, as it seemed fitting that he would end his college career in the same city where he first began playing organized football. Prior to his arrival at Alabama-Birmingham, the former tuba player attended Williamson High School in Mobile, Alabama.

McCants received honorable mention on the Mobile Press-Register All-Region team as a senior, helping Williamson High advance to the class 5A state playoffs while starting on the offensive line during his only season under head coach Bobby Parrish.

In 2007, McCants enrolled at Alabama-Birmingham, where he was immediately "tossed to the wolves" when he was named the Blazers' starting left offensive tackle heading into the season opener vs. Michigan State. He would start the team's first four games, but it was a bit overwhelming for a player with just one season of prep football under his belt to suddenly be starting at a major college.

McCants was benched for the next five contests before returning to the lineup vs. Central Florida, going on to start the final three games. College life struggles continued off the field, as the now sophomore found himself academically ineligible and was forced to sit out the 2008 season.

McCants returned to the field in 2009, starting all 12 games at left tackle. He went on to record 83 knockdowns and 11 touchdown-resulting blocks as part of a unit that went on to set the school season-record, as the Blazers' offense amassed 5,111 yards. His performance in the trenches earned the red-shirt sophomore All-Conference USA honor-able mention.

For the second straight year, UAB generated over 5,000 yards in total offense (5,074) in 2010. McCants started every game on the left side, delivering 97 knockdowns while coming up with 12 touchdown-resulting blocks. He yielded just one sack on 465 pass plays and was recognized as a first-team All-Conference USA pick for his performance.

In 2011, McCants started 11 games, sitting out the Central Florida clash with flu-like symptoms. The offense struggled thanks to the graduation of several key skill players from the previous season, as the Blazers went from 30th in the nation in total offense (422.83 ypg) in 2010 to 81st in 2011 (364.0 ypg). Their left tackle continued his steady play though, as he earned his second All-Conference USA first-team honor. The league's coaches named him the best offensive lineman in ConUSA. He finished his final campaign with eleven touchdown-resulting blocks while totaling 94 knockdowns.

McCants was a key reason the Blazers ranked fourth in the conference in sacks allowed in 2011. "My dream when I left to go to UAB was to always come back and to one day have a chance to play in the Senior Bowl," McCants said. "It's almost like a dream come true, really."

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