WR Jalen McCleskey to transfer out of Oklahoma State
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By JOHN TRANCHINA
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Wide receiver Jalen McCleskey will sit out the rest of the season as a redshirt and prepare to transfer out of Oklahoma State.
McCleskey had four receptions for 52 yards on Saturday in a 41-17 loss to Texas Tech. He is second on Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) with 15 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns this season.
"He did not feel good about us getting the ball to him, so he's decided to redshirt and transfer, so we're going to let him sit the rest of the year," coach Mike Gundy said Monday. "I hated to see it. He's been awesome for us, a great young man, a great family. He just didn't feel he was getting the ball enough, wants to save his year, and sit and transfer to another school."
The 5-10, 170-pound McCleskey, the Cowboys' primary slot receiver for three years now, recorded 29 receptions for 253 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2015, then broke out for 73 catches for 812 yards and seven TDs as a sophomore. Last year, his production dipped to 50 receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns. He ranks sixth on Oklahoma State's career list with 167 receptions and is ninth with 17 aerial touchdowns.
"You lose a good player. But we live in a world where things like that happen now," Gundy said. "But if they come to you and say, `I'm not getting the ball enough and I feel like I need to be somewhere that allows that to happen,' then you have to give them that opportunity."
Gundy said that McCleskey had previously raised the topic that he wanted the ball more, but there really wasn't much he could do to change the situation, pointing out that whoever gets the ball is usually dependent on how the opposing defense is lined up.
"He had mentioned it earlier, but you look at it from my standpoint, we can't control who touches the ball all the time, especially at the wide receiver position," Gundy said. "Like last year, there were people that could take James Washington away, based on what they did, so other people get the ball. And when that happens, we can't control that. And we're certainly not going to tell our quarterback, `We want you to throw to this guy' for certain reasons. And he didn't ask us to do that, but that's what you would be doing. We're not going to do that. Offense is, one guy gets the ball and 10 unselfish guys have to go play their (butts) off."
Gundy made sure to point out there were no hard feelings.
"We had a good meeting," Gundy said. "I told him I didn't think it was the best decision, and hated to see it happen, but if that's what he chooses to do, I can't prevent it from happening."
There has already been some speculation that McCleskey might intend to transfer to Tulane, where his father, J.J. McCleskey, is an assistant coach. Gundy didn't know anything about his future plans.
Gundy acknowledged that the loss of McCleskey, his only senior wideout, will hurt, but it offered a new opportunity for someone else to step up, citing other receivers like Dillon Stoner (14 receptions, 173 yards), Tyron Johnson (10 receptions, 206 yards) and Landon Wolf (four receptions, 41 yards). Tylan Wallace leads the Cowboys with 26 catches and 442 yards, with two touchdowns.
Oklahoma State faces Kansas (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday.
Updated September 24, 2018