The Massachusetts Pirates have signed former NFL All-Pro wide receiver and kick returner Dexter McCluster.
A seven year NFL veteran, McCluster was a second round pick (36th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Mississippi by the Kansas City Chiefs. After four seasons with the Chiefs, where he enjoyed a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 and was second team All-Pro the same season, he went on to play for two seasons with the Tennessee Titans and then in 2016 with the San Diego Chargers. His last professional season was in 2018 with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Now he wants to get to work for the Pirates.
“I’m here to learn as fast as possible, get to know my teammates and my new brothers and get in where I fit in. I’m going to work hard, I’m going to push and motivate myself as well as others and we’ll see where the chips fall,” McCluster said.
McCluster, who grew up in Lago, FL, played in a total of 89 NFL games with 236 receptions for 1,993 yards and seven touchdowns. He also rushed 250 times for 1,042 yards with two scores. He was an explosive punt returner with 133 returns for 1,388 yards and three touchdowns and also returned 74 kickoffs for 1,554 yards. In his Pro Bowl season of 2013 he had 53 receptions for 511 yards and two touchdowns for the Chiefs while returning 58 punts for 686 yards and two more scores. This will be his first experience as a player in the arena game, but he was exposed to the game years ago.
“My dad used to take me to watch some of the (Tampa Bay) Storm’s games. It was exciting. As a kid watching, I never knew or imagined myself playing arena football, but here I am. Life came back around. It will be a learning process. I didn’t know the linebackers can’t go in a certain area of the field. It’s more about understanding the game, studying the game, finding the holes so I’m just excited. I’m a little nervous. People may say he’s been in the NFL on one of the highest stages but I’m kind of nervous. It’s kind of an anxious feeling. I’m just ready to get out there and get a feel for the whole game,” he added.
McCluster (5’8” 170 lbs.) played four seasons of SEC football at the University of Mississippi from 2006 through 2009. In 40 games with the Rebels he ran 304 times for 1,955 yards with 15 touchdowns and caught 130 passes for 1,703 yards and seven scores. As a senior he set two school single game records against Tennessee rushing for 282 yards and totaled 324 all-purpose yards. He was also the only player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and have 500 receiving yards in the same season.
Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim would like to see production like that almost immediately.
"I feel like we needed to add some more speed and explosiveness to the offense. Right now we are last in the league in total offense, passing offense, and yards per completion. All despite leading the league in attempts and completions, so to say we need someone who can stretch the field and bring some explosiveness to that side of the ball is an understatement. I think Dexter can do just that. It's no secret what kind of ability he possesses. I mean you’re talking about a former Pro Bowler, All-Pro and a player who had more than 6,000 all-purpose yards in the NFL. Its great timing with the bye so we have some time to get him up to speed on the offense and get him acclimated to the adjustments between the outdoor and indoor game. We’re glad to have him and look forward to seeing him in a Pirates uniform," Yatim said.
When asked why he stepped away from the game in 2016 McCluster said it was family reasons.
“I got married,” he said with a smile. “I have four beautiful daughters and I wanted to be present and I wanted to be home so I took a year and a half off and in the midst of that I started coaching and high school football near Nashville (Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, TN). I got an unexpected call from Toronto in the CFL and played there last year. I didn’t know what the future would be this year and then got a call from the Pirates and here I am.”
He never expected to get into coaching but now he will bring that experience to the Pirates as well as his All-Pro skills.
“That’s something that I never thought I would do, but giving back has always been me. It’s the person I am. I pride myself on having great character, so knowing that I have that talent to actually motivate and to make someone believe in themselves, even if they don’t, it’s great to have and that’s something I want to bring here; some leadership and different motivation, just a different way of looking at the game,” McCluster said.
Physically, after taking a year and half off and then going to Toronto last season, McCluster says he’s ready to go.
“The body wasn’t getting used to being hit like it used to be. It kind of got relaxed. Going to the CFL and after this off season, I knew what I wanted to work on and what I needed to work on and I’ve been hitting it like a maniac. I’m 30 right now, will be 31 this year, but right now I feel like I’m 22 years old so I’m ready to go.”
He also has no fear for the walls that are a part of the arena game.
“I’m gonna kick that wall down, stomp over it and leave it in the dust.”
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.