John McClain: Clayton Tune and Tank Dell prepared to do whatever it takes to play in the NFL, would relish a reunion with the Texans

Nov 12, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars wide receiver Nathaniel Dell (1) receives a pass from quarterback Clayton Tune (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Temple Owls at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: Clayton Tune and Tank Dell prepared to do whatever it takes to play in the NFL, would relish a reunion with the Texans

INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Clayton Tune and wide receiver Tank Dell believe their experiences at the University of Houston helped prepare them for careers in the NFL.

Tune and Dell came to the scouting combine hoping to impress NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts. Both performed well but got lost in the shuffle of more highly rated-players at their positions.

Tune, 6-2 ½, 220, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64, making him the fifth-fastest quarterback. Dell, 5-8, 165 – 2 inches shorter than he was listed for the Cougars – ran a 4.49. They’re expected to be third-day picks in the draft (April 27-29), and both say they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to play at the next level. They believe they benefitted from playing in coach Dana Holgorsen’s wide-open offense.

“I had a lot of good coaches,” Tune said during his session with the media. “Dana Holgorsen is a great offensive mind. Shannon Dawson (former offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) is right there with him. Having the help from those two guys and just putting in the work each day.”

Tune wouldn’t trade the opportunity he received from the Cougars.

“It means everything,” he said. “I played all five years, which is not super common nowadays with the transfer portal. Being loyal to the program is very important to me. I had a lot of success but also a lot of adversity, learned from it and built a lot of great relationships that are important to me.

“My favorite moment was playing in the conference championship game even though we lost (Cincinnati). That season was a lot of fun. We finished 12-2 and had a good run.”

Last season, Tune threw for 4,074 yards, completed 67.3%, and finished with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 544 yards and five touchdowns. Dell caught 109 passes for 1,398 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“It was great,” Dell said about playing with Tune. “That’s my guy, one of my best friends. We had that bond off the field, too. That made us what we were on the field. We had a connection, and we could trust each other. I feel like his (talent) is going to translate into the league. He’s going to do what he has to do. He’s a leader, a great guy, and a great person to have in the locker room. And he can play football, which is the main thing, of course.”

Tune and Dell worked hard to prepare for the combine. They’ll keep working hard to get ready for the Cougars’ pro day and possible private workouts for teams.

“I made it a point to focus on a couple of things during the offseason to get better at, things I felt would help me be a better player,” Tune said. “I’ve been working with Jordan Palmer in California. I’m watching how I used to throw before I started working with him and figuring out ways to be more efficient and using my whole body as opposed to just using all arm. It’s helped me throw a lot better.”

Tune doesn’t have issues with his size. Dell does. He’ll be a slot receiver, but he wants to show he can also play outside as well as return kicks.

“Every time I step on the field, I play with chips on both shoulders,” Dell said. “I feel like I’ve got a point to prove. I don’t care who we play – the smallest school or the biggest school – I’m coming with that same mentality to go hard.

“I don’t think it (size) affects me at all. I’ve been like this my whole life.

I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old, and I’ve always played against bigger dudes. I feel like I can pick up where I left off in college. Of course, I’ve got to adapt. I feel like I can make plays versus anybody, so I’m going to be ready. I think I showed at the Senior Bowl I can play inside and outside. I’m guessing I’ll start off in the slot, and once things start clicking, I’ll go outside, too.”

Tune was asked what kind of quarterback the team that drafts him is going to get.

“They’re getting a really tough player, a guy that’s experienced, has played a lot of ball, and has seen a lot,” he said. “Someone who’s ready to learn right away from everybody on that staff and in that room. And someone who’s ready to play. I want to play my rookie year, and by year two be a guy that takes the reigns and takes off.

“Making plays off schedule is something I pride myself in doing. Structured plays, you only get so many of those where it goes exactly as planned, but sometimes you have to do things that are off schedule. That’s something I do well.”

There’s always a chance Tune and Dell could be reunited in the NFL, perhaps even remain in Houston. The Texans need two quarterbacks to go with Davis Mills. They’re also looking for receivers to play for new coach DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik.

“He’s a great coach, and he had a great (playing) career,” Tune said about Ryans. “For me, just going in and being around a guy that’s good at what he does as a developing player, I think that would be a really good opportunity for me. I’ve talked to some teams, but it’s too early to tell who’s interested and who’s not.”

Dell was asked the same question about playing for the Texans.

“Yeah, I’d love it,” he said. “I love Houston. I’ve got a name there. I feel like it would go well if I go there. They (want to) get the ball in the receiver’s hands and let him make plays. I feel like I’m an explosive receiver.

If they come get me, it would be a blessing for sure. I’m a Florida boy, but I also feel like I’m a Houstonian. It would be great to help that rebuild.”

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

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