McCleon well-prepared for second Super Bowl
SUPER SUNDAY, SUPER PLAYER St. Louis Rams cornerback Dexter McCleon (21), of Meridian, gets set to cover Green Bay Packers receiver Bill Schroeder during the NFC divisional playoff game on Jan. 20 in St. Louis. The Rams take on the New England Patriots today in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans. AP Photo
By Marty Stamper/staff writer
Feb. 3, 2002
As a youngster, Dexter McCleon stood out whether he was playing football or baseball or basketball in the youth leagues of Meridian.
That could be said of quite a few people, but how many have been able to elevate their athletic ability to the highest level of professional sports?
Today, McCleon will be playing in his second Super Bowl in just his fifth season in the National Football League. He will start at cornerback for the St. Louis Rams when they take on New England in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Many played a role in getting the 5-foot-10, 195-pound McCleon to where he is today. All have come away impressed with his willingness to better himself.
But good enough for the NFL?
Dexter started at right cornerback in Super Bowl XXXIV. In one of the better Super Bowls, the Rams held off the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in a game played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
With this year's game to be played in New Orleans, Dexter can expect to see quite a few family members on hand once again.
Mitch readily admits to showing no favoritism to his son at the youth sports level.
That approach helped prepare Dexter when Mike Martz took over as head coach of the Rams.
Dexter wasn't just a good athlete in his early years, he was also a good student.
Dexter's coaches at Meridian High School still think very highly of him.
Dexter played on Meridian's last state championship team in 1990 as a sophomore defensive back and part-time quarterback. He started at quarterback for the Wildcats his junior and senior years.
Dexter has a summer camp for kids at MHS and donates the proceeds to the athletic fund at his alma mater to be used for letterman jackets.
After graduating from Meridian, McCleon played college baseball and football at Clemson. His family frequently made the long drive to South Carolina to watch Dexter play.
Growing up in the McCleon house, if the TV was on, it was most likely turned to a ballgame of some sort.
Dexter was no slouch in baseball. In fact, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins.
Dexter began playing football shortly after he started school in a youth tackle league at the Sammie Davidson Complex.
That same kid is now a grown man and is third on the Rams in tackles, with 58. He has four interceptions and a fumble recovery.