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This is the 11th in a series of profiles on the top 15 players on The Detroit News Blue Chip list. Today: No. 5, Oak Park offensive lineman Marquan McCall.

Marquan McCall was thrilled to be back on the field, showing he had recovered from his knee injury and was able to play at an elite level during his senior season at Oak Park.

McCall displayed his talent on both sides of the ball, opening holes while protecting the quarterback as an offensive lineman while clogging the middle and causing havoc for opposing quarterbacks to help Oak Park reach the Division 2 regional final.

McCall, a 6-foot-3, 340-pound four-star lineman, earned a spot on The News Dream Team.

“I feel like things went good for us,” McCall said of his senior year. “We had a lot of opportunities to come up big, and I felt like I had a real good connection with all my teammates and I’m like a big brother now.

“I felt like I was back, 100 percent healthy and wanted to get on the field and do what I could for my team. I was more of a leader, had to have the leader’s mindset, definitely more serious about everything. We all had a lot of respect for each other out there.”

No doubt, McCall was on college coaches’ radar during his sophomore year, already owning multiple offers, including Michigan and Michigan State, but those schools backed off after his injury early during the 2016 season, which resulted in him undergoing surgery on his left knee.

Still, Kentucky remained hot on McCall, showing its desire to bring him to the Southeastern Conference school, and he jumped on board. He has a 3.3 grade-point-average and plans to major in communications.

“Kentucky kept showing me love, kept hitting me up and once I had my surgery there was no other schools staying in contact with me,” McCall said. “Kentucky was there for me the whole nine yards and that loyalty meant a lot to me. They were with me the whole time.

“I just love Kentucky. I can’t wait to get down there. Every time I go down there, they show love and the fans are just amazing. We’re trying to get a lot of metro-area players down there, a lot of Detroiters so we can ball, go get a ring.”

Sure, McCall was first known for his strong play as an offensive lineman, but now he enjoys playing defense more and plans to play defensive tackle at Kentucky.

“I really love beating up the center, that’s what I do best,” McCall said. “It was just wonderful. Like I said last year when I got hurt, I couldn’t do anything so for me to go out there and do what I did, I just felt great about everything.

“At first, I liked to play offensive more because I got to pancake people a lot and that’s what I did best, but now I like defense more since I like to beat up the center and sack the quarterback. Kentucky recruited me to play on the defensive line.”

Oak Park coach Greg Carter has high praise for McCall, saying: “For a guy his size, he’s extremely quick and athletic and has great hands. He’s really, really physical and has a lot of experience, starting as a sophomore for us, and he’s just been a dominant player ever since.”

McCall feels fortunate to have had the chance to play on the same offensive line as Justin Rogers, a sophomore tackle who already owns more than 20 offers, including Ohio State, Michigan State, and Kentucky.

“He’s amazing,” McCall says of Rogers, “That boy is like a robot, he gets everything quick, he’s a great learner and he’s becoming a great leader and I’m really proud of what he’s becoming.”

Then there’s McCall’s cousin, Belleville freshman tackle Damon Payne, who already has offers from Georgia, Florida State, Iowa, Iowa State, Syracuse, Minnesota and Kentucky.

“For him to be a ninth-grader right now, he’s going to be amazing football player,” McCall said of the 6-4, 255-pound Payne. “He’s already very strong. He sticks with me when I go up against him.”

BLUE CHIP PROFILES

No. 15: Taj Mustapha ‘at home’ with Badgers

No. 14: Michael Furtney up front in love for Badgers

No. 13: River Rouge’s Reggie Pearson finds his voice

No. 12: DeAndre Square bigger, stronger for Cass Tech, Kentucky

No. 11: Elijah Collins’ return to football pays off

No. 10: Summer work pays dividends for Theo Day

No. 9: Awards nice, but La’Darius Jefferson finds joy in title

No. 8: Demens’ defensive acumen registers through roof

No. 7: ‘Desire to be the best’ drives Ovie Oghoufo

No. 6: UM commit Hayes offers hefty target

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/DavidGoricki

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