- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Bobby McClarin and Lane Jackson look like fighters.

Both are covered in some type of debris from Navy’s artificial turf practice field despite a pad-less, supposedly contact-free workout Sunday afternoon. McClarin lifts his head to show off the new stitches in his chin, a badge of honor from the game Saturday against Vanderbilt.

It wouldn’t be wise to pick a fight with either of Navy’s intense inside linebackers. Tussle with one, and the other is sure to be close by.

“If I ever got into a fight, he’d be the first person I’d call,” Jackson says. “He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met.”

McClarin echoes his sentiment. They make quite a pair, whether it’s tracking down running backs or hanging out at McClarin’s fiancee’s home with fellow linebacker T.J. Costello, watching football and savoring juicy steaks.

The duo personifies Navy’s defense, undersized on paper but not in desire and effort. Anchoring the middle of the Midshipmen’s 3-4 scheme, Jackson (39) and McClarin (37) are tied for first and third, respectively, on the team in tackles.

Without pads on, most people would have a hard time picking them out among the midshipmen moving about the Yard. Both are listed at 5-foot-11, though McClarin (225 pounds) tips the scales a little more than Jackson (217).

“In the offseason, they work harder than anybody on this football team,” inside linebackers coach Kevin Kelly says. “They’re very intense individuals in anything that they do. In film study and in meetings, they are very intense in terms of wanting to know every little detail. Perfectionists, I guess, is the right word.”

McClarin, who hails from Bethlehem, Pa., missed three games last season with a broken hand. It was affectionately dubbed the “Club” when McClarin returned because of the mass of protection on the hand.

When McClarin knocked down a pass in the end zone against Air Force, the “Club” made national highlight reels. Now, it is immortalized in a restaurant inside Dahlgren Hall.

“It just came about that one of Coach [Buddy] Green’s friends works in Dahlgren,” McClarin says. “I guess she liked the way I played, so she wanted to name a sandwich after the “Club.”

And so the Bobby Mac Club — roast beef, Swiss cheese, jalapeno peppers and brown mustard on rye bread — was born.

“It’s a good sandwich,” Jackson says.

Jackson, a Miami native, has aspirations to be a Navy SEAL after graduation. The SEALs are an elite group of Special Warfare operators.

“You work with a small group of close-knit guys, and I think that’s something I do well with,” Jackson says. “That’s what I want to be a part of. I’ve been to [the Naval Special Warfare Center in] Coronado, California, and met a bunch of SEALs. It really impressed me.

“That and blowing up stuff. … It’s the excitement and the adventure. You grow up as a kid and see Navy SEALs on TV and think how awesome it would be to go through the training and how awesome it would be to jump out of airplanes.”

The SEAL program is one of the most glamorous in the U.S. military. It has been popularized by movies and video games — Jackson loves “shoot ‘em up” games like SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs and his personal favorite, Rainbow Six, which deals with counter-terrorism operations similar to the SEALs.

SEAL training is treacherous and considered to be some of the toughest preparation in the world. It’s not surprising Jackson welcomes the challenge.

His body language, the way he carefully chooses words and his sudden changes in enthusiasm and voice inflection exude the type of intensity Jackson and McClarin are known for.

“Lane is a warrior,” McClarin says. “The SEALs, they don’t quit. Lane doesn’t quit. He doesn’t know how.”

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