Connect with us


100 Days of Summer: Get to Know No. 1 Jalen McCleskey



We’re counting down hours not days to the kickoff of the 2017 football season. No. 1 on our countdown is Jalen McCleskey, one of the leading returning pass catchers in the Big 12 and one opposing defenses can’t overlook.

How he got to OSU

The three-star prospect from St. Paul’s (Covington, Louisiana) was looked over by most schools because of size. At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, McCleskey wasn’t exactly an imposing figure. But the son of former NFL defensive back J.J. McCleskey, had the speed (4.40 40-yard time) and the work ethic to be a playmaker at the next level.

Luckily for all involved, Mike Gundy has a knack for mining diamond-in-the-rough wideouts and not only extended McCleskey his only Power 5 offer, but trusted the speedster to play immediately as a true freshman both on offense and as a punt returner from Day 1.

What he’s done in Stillwater

Since his arrival in 2015, McCleskey has shown both that speed and work effort mentioned earlier, plus another attribute that Mike Gundy didn’t necessarily predict. He’s got stick’em gloves. As a true freshman — in an albeit smaller sample size — McCleskey caught 29 catches on 32 targets. That’s a ridiculous 90.6 percent catch rate.

In 2016, as the Cowboys’ leader in caught passes (73), he hauled in 75.3 percent of his 97 targets. Those are Justin Blackmon numbers from an efficiency standpoint. McCleskey’s also worked on his body during his time in Stillwater. He’s never going to be Blackmon or Dez type physically but tell that to the side-shuffling line judge or the scoreboard.

Role in 2017

McCleskey enters his junior season as the undisputed starter at the slot position. He’s one of a half dozen or so playmakers who could go off at any time. But even with that depth and talent OSU boasts at receiver, McCleskey could be up for more targets in 2017.

With the departure of Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch, who combined for 36 targets in 2016, we expect the role of the Cowboy Back to decrease, at least slightly, in favor of 10 personnel (one RB, four WRs) or even 00 personnel (five-wide) looks. With a need to keep defenses honest in the middle of the field, guys like McCleskey and Dillon Stoner become invaluable weapons.

Noteworthy stats and highlights

McCleskey grabbed a career-high 11 catches twice in 2016. He recorded three 100-plus yard games last year, as well, including four catches for 109 yards and two scores against Texas. He also returns as the Cowboys’ featured punt returner and has one return touchdown against Texas Tech in 2015.

And he can even catch a deep ball or two if need be. He showed that here in his (and Mason Rudolph’s) first game inside Boone Pickens Stadium in 2015.

Advanced wide receiver stats come courtesy of Bill Connelly and Football Study Hall.

Most Read

Copyright © 2011- 2023 White Maple Media