It was 4:45 p.m. Friday afternoon that Tyron Johnson officially became an Oklahoma State student. There were a lot of things working all at once and it was understandable when the reporter in New Orleans reported that Johnson was heading to Oklahoma State (actually he and his father had arrived around 10 a.m. Friday) that the bloggers would jump in with both feet without actually knowing what was going on.
Without going into detail, there were some academic questions that needed clarification and those could only come from LSU. It took awhile for that information to end up being shared with Oklahoma State University's admissions office. There was also the issue of the Oklahoma State deadline for enrollment for the fall semester. Johnson came in just under the wire.
That said, Oklahoma State fans have been embracing the idea of inheriting a five-star recruit in Johnson. One media member, not necessarily a recruiting expert, called Johnson Mike Gundy's best recruit in years. Johnson is good, highly regarded out of Warren Easton High School in New Orleans, but quarterback Mason Rudolph, receiver James Washington, safety Jordan Sterns, and just a few other Cowboys have accomplished quite a bit, picked up a number of mentions on preseason award lists, and put Oklahoma State in a position where they have been picked second preseason in the Big 12 and 19th in the preseason USA Today Top 25 poll.
Johnson has a really good opportunity to take a year and square away his academics, work on any weaknesses and strengthen his game before he has a chance to play at Oklahoma State for keeps. The sit out year for a transfer can be a gift or it can be a curse and it is up to the player to decide.
Johnson has good guidance. In fact, it is one of his guides that he can thank for pointing him in the direction of Stillwater because a little over two years ago Johnson and his father, Tyrone, pointed J.J. McCleskey and his son, current Cowboys slot receiver Jalen McCleskey, in the direction of Oklahoma State.
J.J. McCleskey, the former Tennessee standout who played in the secondary in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals, is a trainer of top skill players in Louisiana. Many of the top high school receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, and defensive backs end up spending time picking up the wisdom of eight years in the NFL playing safety, corner, nickel back and dime back. McCleskey is an exacting teacher and it shows in the play of his students.
This summer, Cowboys wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn told me he knows that Jalen and any of his other players that go spend time with the McCleskeys is getting good coaching.
"I know when Jalen goes home he works harder than he does here in Stillwater," Dunn said with a grin. "He's working in the morning and then coming back for more in the afternoon. I also have no problem with it because I know how his dad (J.J.) coaches and I know that I'm going to get him back better and he won't have any bad habits. His dad is a good coach and knows what he is doing."
J.J. told me that Tyron and his dad had been to Oklahoma State and told us that Jalen would be a good fit for Oklahoma State. He had told Oklahoma State about Jalen too. The elder McCleskey said it wasn't long before they were at Oklahoma State for a junior day and before he could introduce himself, Kasey Dunn had pulled him aside and told him that Jalen would be a great fit for Oklahoma State and the offense they run.
"We kind of owe it to the Johnsons that Jalen is at Oklahoma State," J.J. McCleskey said. "The least we could do is repay the favor."
"You can put this down and quote me," McCleskey added. "I've trained that kid (Johnson) and Tyron will be a great fit because he runs his routes the way I've coached him to run them and that is the way Kasey Dunn coaches them. That is why Tyron will be such a good fit for OSU. We coach similar habits.
"Oklahoma State is getting a play maker and that's what Tyron Johnson is," McCleskey added with a lot of enthusiasm. "He is one of those guys that that will get the job done."
The numbers are great, the athletic skill is certainly there, and the endorsement from a former college standout, NFL veteran, teacher of football, and current Oklahoma State parent is a really good bonus.