Former USC linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain transferring to Jackson State

USC linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain sits on the bench during a game against Texas.
USC linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain sits on the bench during a game against Texas on Sept. 15, 2018, in Austin.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain, who opted to enter the transfer portal after his family’s relationship with USC and coach Clay Helton soured, has found a new home at Jackson State.

McClain’s mother, Shan, announced the news of his “next chapter” in a tweet Wednesday, eight days after she told The Times that Abdul-Malik and his brother, Munir, planned to leave USC.

Munir McClain, the suspended wideout who became the focus of a federal probe into apparent unemployment fraud, initially entered the transfer portal along with his brother, but quickly removed his name.


For Abdul-Malik, there was little hesitation. With the NCAA expected to allow a one-time transfer exception in 2021, he should be granted immediate eligibility to play at Jackson State for new head coach — and NFL Hall of Famer — Deion Sanders.

The notion of either McClain brother leaving seemed highly unlikely as recently as this summer. Abdul-Malik was expected to contribute as a rotational pass rusher in a new defense predicated on blitzing, while Munir continued to recover from a tear suffered last season to his anterior cruciate ligament. Both spoke glowingly of their ties to USC.

Trojans receiver Munir McClain said he did nothing wrong in getting unemployment money. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program has come under scrutiny.

Those ties frayed quickly after Munir was suspended in September. The family has since retained legal counsel, while continuing to maintain they were offered no explanation for his suspension.

“They will throw them right under the bus & look the other way & allow them to fight on their own,” Shan McClain wrote in a tweet this month. “No Family, Faith, Football.”

A month after Munir’s suspension, federal investigators showed up at the brothers’ dormitory, asking to speak with Abdul-Malik.

Abdul-Malik was never suspended. While other USC players were served subpoenas to testify in front of a grand jury, he was not.

When asked if Abdul-Malik applied for pandemic unemployment assistance, like Munir had, Shan McClain said at a news conference last month that she preferred not to answer the question.