E.A. Sports Today

McCallum on mend

UPDATED: Oxford linebacker, an LSU commit, to undergo heart procedure next week; assures fans he will return

Oxford linebacker Kendall McCallum (23) wraps up Pell City quarterback Mitchell Gossett. (All photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Oxford linebacker Kendall McCallum, an LSU commitment who just last week was named to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, expects to be back on the field sooner than later following a precautionary medical procedure on his heart next week.

The 6-3, 235-pound senior is scheduled to undergo a heart catheterization Monday in Anniston to make sure his heart is functioning properly in the wake of two asthmatic episodes in the last week.

McCallum posted on his Snapchat account Monday evening he was having “heart surgery next Monday. All prayers needed.” The message included a sad-face emoji.

As one might expect, the terminology in the message brought an overwhelming response of concern, but McCallum assured well-wishers he expected to be back on the field terrorizing opposing ball carriers soon.

“You say heart surgery and everybody automatically thinks ‘open-heart surgery’ and I’ll be out for a while,” he told East Alabama Sports Today Tuesday night. “It’s just a heart cath to make sure I don’t have any blockage and everything is fine. People think I’m done. You’d be amazed at the stuff like that I’ve been getting in my messages.”

McCallum isn’t practicing this week and won’t play Friday when the seventh-ranked Yellow Jackets (5-1) host Shades Valley, but he will be on the Lamar Field sidelines supporting his teammates. He said his doctors are saying he has a “50-50 chance” of playing next week at No. 4 Clay Chalkville, but he’s confident he’ll be back in time for the playoffs.

“If I’m not back for Clay Chalkville, I will be back for the next one (at Gardendale),” he said.

The seventh-ranked Yellow Jackets (5-1) are currently tied with the Cougars for second place in Class 6A Region 6, a half-game ahead of Gardendale.

McCallum, who proclaimed himself “not your average high school football player … a different beast” in his video commitment reveal to LSU, is one of top players on an Oxford defense that has been one of the stingiest in the state the last two seasons. The Yellow Jackets have allowed only 40 points in six games this season, six points or less in five games (four shutouts) and 329 yards rushing.

He committed to LSU in June and on Oct. 1 was announced as part of the All-Star Classic Alabama roster. He burst on the recruiting scene after a junior season that featured 105 tackles (72 solo), 12 for loss, four sacks and two fumble recoveries.

“He’s a big part of our defense, very big,” Yellow Jackets coach Ryan Herring said.

The LSU coaching staff is aware of his situation.

“I’ve talked to the coaches, they know what’s going on,” McCallum said. “People are just taking it harder than what it’s supposed to be.”

Kendall McCallum runs down Munford’s Ja’isiam Tuck during Oxford’s season opener.

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