Oklahoma State senior wide receiver Marcell Ateman will miss the first month of the season and may not be ready to play until early in October after breaking a bone in his foot while running routes almost a week ago. Ateman was doing extra work and running routes, something he has worked very hard at doing better all summer.
The injury did not involve any contact at all and was simply caused by the torque he put on the foot whole making a cut. The foot was repaired surgically at the supervision of Oklahoma State team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Pascale. The expected down time is eight weeks, which will cause Ateman to miss all of fall camp in August and will likely cost him the month of September before he could be ready to get back in game action.
"I'm really bummed out because he has worked so hard in the spring and during the summer to make himself a better player," receivers coach Kasey Dunn said late last week off the record until the news surfaced. "He has been very dedicated and has been a leader along with James Washington with our receiver group. He is such a talented athlete and I was expecting him to have a really productive senior season. I still think he will, but he will just get started later."
Ateman has always had elite potential and last season had his best year with 45 receptions for 766 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 17.0 yards a reception. Overall, in his Oklahoma State career he has 87 catches for 1,310 yards and the five touchdowns from last season.
The Wylie (East High School), Texas product also worked very hard on his body. He has often been referred to as having a basketball frame, but this spring and summer really filled out and is now 6-4 and approaching 220 pounds.
"We have James Washington, Jhajuan Seales, Chris Lacy, and Austin Hays that can play the outside positions," Dunn added. "I really think Tyrell Alexander (freshman from Lancaster, Texas) will play some. Inside, I'm expecting a big season from Jalen McCleskey and I think Dillon Stoner (freshman from Jenks) will play as early."
"We have a lot of receiver talent and I'm confident in those players and in Kasey Dunn," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said today. "We also have a lot of returning talent at the Cowboy backs with the likes of Blake Jarwin, Zac Veatch, Jordan Frazier, and Keenen Brown and Cole Neph there. We hate to lose Marcell but we will find ways to make up for it until we can get him back out there. Hopefully, it will be earlier in the season and his rehab will go perfectly."
The loss of Ateman continues a run of bad luck late in the summer for the Cowboys. It seems like they have lost a starter or premier player late in the summer for the last couple of years. Last season it was starting defensive tackle Vili Leveni, but defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements and his crew found a way to overcome and even developed more defensive tackle depth than close observers felt was there.
The positive with losing a receiver is that the expectation is the position does have some quality depth.