Note: The following appears in the South Carolina gameday football program
One of the first major decisions a young adult is forced to make is choosing a college to attend after high school. For most 18-year olds, it is a chance to get away from home. For senior running back Ryan Mac Lain, picking Clemson meant choosing a new home.
Growing up in Plymouth, Ind., he always knew he wanted to move away from his home state, but he wanted to remain connected to his family. Despite his proximity to Notre Dame, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his older cousins, Eric Mac Lain, a former Clemson All-ACC offensive guard, and Sean Mac Lain, a former Tiger wideout.
“It was kind of a package deal with my cousins. One day, a letter showed up from Clemson. We had never heard of Clemson at the time because it was still growing, but we took our first visit and absolutely fell in love. I came in as a preferred walk-on, and it’s been history ever since.”
Despite staying in Indiana, his family has also made Clemson a second home. No matter the circumstances, his family never misses a chance to be there to see him play.
“I owe it all to my parents. They drive 15 hours for every home game with my sisters, my brothers-in-law and even my grandma has made a trip. My family has been the greatest support system I could ask for.”
Since setting foot on the Clemson campus, he has been able to leave his mark on the football program through hard work and dedication to being a positive influence for his teammates.
“A lot of people don’t understand their role coming in. I understood it pretty quickly. I knew I wasn’t going to come in and take a starting job. My role on the team is to get my team better every single day and to be a good motivator, whether it’s as a starting running back or a scout-team player. I want to help the younger players and get the defense ready for every game.”
Off the field, he has also been able to reap the benefits of being a part of the Clemson athletics family.
“The better question is what hasn’t this team done for me. It’s a blessing to be here with programs like P.A.W. Journey and the brothers I surround myself with every day. There are a lot of guys you can learn life lessons from, and the coaches pour energy into you. Coach (Tony) Elliott hasn’t just been a running backs coach, he’s been a life coach.”
As a senior, Mac Lain has set personal goals to continue working tirelessly to help the defense improve on scout team and to continue motivating others. He hopes to be able to play his hometown rival, Notre Dame, one last time before the end of his time as a Tiger.
“Playing them in 2015 was an awesome experience to get to play them down here. Other than winning another national championship, there would be no better way to end my career than being able to play my hometown team in the playoff. It would be a great opportunity for our team to grow.”
After graduating, he hopes to stay in South Carolina and work in the field of industrial organizational psychology, but he has also left the door open for a potential acting career.
“I would love to work for businesses in order to help make business environments happier and more work efficient. I’ve also always been interested in acting. I’ve watched people like Kevin Hart, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, and I’ve always been a huge fan of them ever since I could think about comedy. At this point, it’s up for grabs.”