The 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with talented wide receivers, which should give general managers plenty of options to get fantastic value in the middle and later rounds. One such player who is flying under the radar right now is former Indiana State receiver Phazione McClurge.
McClurge recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his decision to transfer from Cornell to Indiana State, his favorite route to run, which teams have shown interest in him throughout the process, the transition from cornerback to receiver, and so much more.
JM: You played three seasons at Cornell before entering the transfer portal. You ended up spending your senior season at Indiana State. How do you look back on the decision to transfer from Cornell to Indiana State?
PM: It was the best possible decision I could have made at the time. The pandemic had just hit and it left our future hanging in the balance. Playing at Cornell, the Ivy League was very unsure regarding whether or not they were going to have a football season. They actually ended up being the first ones to cancel the season. The following season remained in doubt as well. The Ivy League is always going to prioritize academics before sports. I knew the future was up in the air. I decided to enter the transfer portal.
I reached out to one of my old high school coaches, coach Joe Kubik and I also reached out to coach Curt Mallory at Indiana State. He had originally recruited me coming out of high school. He previously spent some time at Wyoming. It was a great opportunity for me to play some high-level ball in the FBS at Indiana State. I wanted to compete in the playoffs. We unfortunately didn’t reach our team goals but I played for some great coaches and a great offensive coordinator. It was a terrific opportunity for me. I met so many great people that helped take my game to the next level.
JM: It worked out beautifully for you. You used to play cornerback back in high school and you made the move to receiver back in 2019. What was that transition like?
PM: I played cornerback throughout my first two seasons at Cornell. When I was being recruited to head to Cornell and some of the other programs that showed interest in me, I expressed a desire to play on both sides of the ball. I was asking everybody about that possibility. I know it doesn’t happen in college much but I wanted to do it. It never really happened at Cornell. My last season before 2020, we lost two of our starting X receivers to injury in training camp. I’m talking before the season even started. I made the move to receiver out of necessity. That was all she wrote.
JM: You made a smooth transition. When is your pro day?
PM: I’m excited to showcase what I can do at My Pro Day. Indiana State is having its pro day on March 30.
JM: Have you met with any teams or scouts throughout this process?
PM: I had a great opportunity at the College Gridiron Showcase. I was able to speak with several scouts throughout that event. One team sat me down for a more in-depth interview and that was the Detroit Lions. I had a great conversation with one of their scouts. We talked about football and my transition from cornerback to receiver. We talked about my knowledge of the game. That was a great conversation.
JM: Those meetings are so important and it’s exciting to hear the Lions have expressed some interest in you. Do you have a favorite route to run, and how do you create separation throughout that route?
PM: My favorite route is the go-ball. I’m big on the 9-route. Let me go deep, throw it up, and let me go get it (laughs). We didn’t get to do that a lot at Cornell or Indiana State so I’m looking forward to getting more of those opportunities at the next level.
I’m excited to play with a great quarterback in the NFL. It will give me a chance to showcase my abilities to win one-v-one while securing that go ball. In terms of how I create separation on that route, my biggest thing is my release.
It starts at the line of scrimmage. It starts by beating the cornerback with the release. It’s really an art. I’m good with my releases. I can give him a one-two jab, I can get him off-balance by making him think I’m going inside or outside and stacking them. Once I get on that stack, and I have a quarterback that knows where to put the ball, we’re winning on that route every time.
JM: I love that description. I’ve appreciated your time today. Why should a team use one of their draft picks on Phazione McClurge?
PM: I think a team should use one of their picks on me because I’m a leader at the end of the day. I can bring some spontaneous ability to the team. I’m going to come in and soak everything up as a rookie. I’m gonna be ready to go. I’ll be able to make some big plays for us on offense, defense, and special teams. I can play whenever you need me, and I’m going to help the team win.