Weekday Update: Ateman Reliving Days with Basketball, High School Football

Written by Hayden Barber

The Weekday Update is PFB’s take on a laid-back conversation with those Oklahoma State guys and gals you just crave a little more information about.

This week, we dive into family, fashion, faith and those other things you might not catch on TV with one of the 10,000 NFL-bound Cowboys receivers, Marcell Ateman.


This will not come as a surprise to most of you, but Marcell Ateman used to play basketball, and he was pretty good at it, too.

Ateman’s dad, Ronald Ateman, played collegiately at Western Illinois. He was a Leatherneck, and once upon a day in 1990, Ronald scored 36 in a win against a then-undefeated Northwestern team.

“When I came down low, I was told to take the ball to the hole, and that’s what I did,” Ronald told the Chicago Tribune after the game.

Speed things up 27 years and Ronald’s son is only an inch shorter than he was as a senior in college, but Marcell is still doing exactly what his dad did all those years ago. Although it’s in a different sport, the Atemans have made a habit of taking the ball to the hole.

Although Ronald had quite the college career, averaging more than 16 points per game as a senior, Marcell said his dad didn’t pressure him or try to convince him to stick with basketball or choose it over football.

“He didn’t mind,” Ateman said. “I like basketball, too, so it was kinda one of those things. I became better at football, so it was full-on support.”

Ateman said he never thought about playing both in college. That was probably a wise decision. Through three seasons and two games, he has pulled in almost 100 passes for close to 1,500 yards and crossed the plane seven times. I can’t imagine him putting up those stats while dropping 10 every night in Gallagher-Iba.

At 6-foot-4, Ateman is the Cowboys’ tallest receiver, and already so far this season he has been used like a center in the post. On OSU’s first drive against South Alabama, Ateman didn’t see the field until the last play when Mason Rudolph threw him what he would call a “70/30 ball” in the front corner of the end zone.

“6-4, 200 frame, that’s like a nightmare for a corner to guard somebody that big,” James Washington said. “Especially when you only have 10 yards to guard him. He’s big and strong, and he can body you up and get the job done.”

Ateman was one of the highlights in the Cowboys’ 2013 recruiting class and for good reason. While he was at Wylie East High School, he spearheaded one of the best offenses in the state. His quarterback, as I’ve written about: Garrett McCain, the now-former OSU outfielder.

Ateman and McCain’s relationship was strong in high school, and while it slipped a little when they got to college because of the time commitments for their sports, they always made time for each other when possible.

They both chose to wear No. 3 in college. Ateman got to Stillwater a year before, so he said when McCain came up, he knew what he had to do.

“Maybe I pushed it upon him,” Ateman said.

McCain is now in the Detroit Tigers minor league system after getting drafted in the 10th round of the MLB Draft, but Ateman said he met up with his old quarterback this past weekend. Ateman said they caught up before McCain headed back down the road.

“That’s my boy,” Ateman said. “That’s my brother.”

  • David

    Ateman was the man before his injury… has seemed to have the drops from time to time this year. I dunno if it’s a concentration thing or what, but hopefully he figures it out for the rest of the season.

    • Ben DeWalt

      His catch rate is 75% so far which is pretty solid. He also has been our most targeted receiver at 17.4% so that could factor in to this perception.