Former University of Kentucky football player Marcus McClinton is still hoping for a return to the NFL.
But in the meantime, McClinton is also pursuing what he says is his No. 1 passion: music.
McClinton will serve as the opening act for a concert Friday at Kentucky Horse Park that features Grammy-nominated R&B singer Mario, R&B singer Bobby V and hip-hop performer OJ Da Juiceman. McClinton performs regularly at Southside Pub, and he received the invitation to open the show after a recent audition in Lexington.
"It's a great opportunity," said McClinton, who played free safety at Kentucky from 2004 to 2008. "There'll be some big-time managers and producers there, and hopefully I'll make some big-time contacts and eventually get signed."
McClinton describes himself as an old-school R&B crooner in the mold of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. He became known for his singing exploits during his UK football career, and he wrote the popular theme song We Believe that became the rallying cry for the Wildcats during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
"I try to be a man's man up there," McClinton said. "Some people who sing are feminine and like to dance all the time. I want my image to be that of a masculine, sexy man who likes to sing to a woman."
McClinton, 24, signed a free-agent contract with the New England Patriots in 2009, but he was cut before training camp. He spent last season in the new United Football League with Sacramento and is awaiting Thursday's UFL Draft to figure out which team he'll be with this season. McClinton said his brief time with the Patriots was a learning experience.
"It's a job and, basically, you've just got to do something to catch somebody's eye," McClinton said. "In New England, I was the 10th safety behind nine other guys. I just stood around in practice and didn't get any reps. I would advise kids coming out of college, make sure where your agent is telling you to go is the best business decision for you and you have a chance to make the team. Don't just go because it's a good team or (because) you'll get a good signing bonus."
McClinton says he knows which way he'd go if forced to choose between the NFL and a successful music career.
"Music has always been my No. 1 love," McClinton said. "Football pays the bills, and I love it but, if I can have a successful career in music, I'd do that so I wouldn't have to bang my body around to make money."