Oklahoma State wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn spoke with us the other day and he said many of the things we expected him to say. James Washington has a chance to be one of the best receivers in the Big 12 and the nation. Just today, in fact, Washington and the player that throws him the football, quarterback Mason Rudolph, were listed on the 2016 Maxwell Award Watch List.
Dunn spoke of his receivers group as a whole and even told us that he thought that freshmen receivers Dillon Stoner of Jenks, Oklahoma, and Tyrell Alexander of Lancaster, Texas would both play this season.
Then unsolicited Dunn broke into a brag session on senior-to-be wide receiver Marcell Ateman. The highly recruited (by Dunn) receiver out of Wylie East High School in Wylie, Texas has always been considered a weapon, a potential big-time player, but early in his career he had games where he disappeared some or had critical plays go wrong like a busted route in the rain in Waco when the Cowboys were breaking in a freshman quarterback in Mason Rudolph, breaking his redshirt late in the season.
Also a standout basketball player in high school, at 6-4, 215-pound Ateman is the kind of athlete who can dominate an opposing secondary because not only does he have the size but he also has a ton of athletic ability.
To be fair, sometimes guys just need more time and while Ateman made some plays and missed some, last season he became much more consistent with 45 receptions for 766 yards and five touchdowns.
ESPN's Big 12 bloggers lauded Ateman for last season as being one of the most dependable receivers in the conference as he was targeted 67 times, had 45 receptions, and only three drops. That is a pretty solid record as the other 19 times he was targeted with no reception were either poor throws, well-defender passes, or 50/50 balls.
"Everybody I hear from is telling me that Marcell is really getting after it, in the weight room, on the field," Dunn said. "I am expecting him to have a great season."
Ateman has the potential to attract attention from NFL scouts, again because of his size and athleticism. This season will be the key for Marcell as to whether he turns pro in football or something other than sports. I'm betting he has the kind of season that gets him selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.