Marcell Ateman, a 6-4, 220-pound redshirt senior out of Dallas, Texas will be a sight for sore eyes this upcoming season for Cowboy fans as he missed the entire 2016 season due to a foot injury sustained during summer workouts last year. Ateman was just starting to heat up on the field when the injury took place as he logged 766 receiving yards during the 2015 season. Which was big jump from 268 yards the season before.
“The adversity’s been good for him.” Said Gundy, “Sometimes when we have things taken from us that we really don’t appreciate, all of us do that with certain things in our life. He realized how much he actually missed being on our team. Being around the guys, being able to practice. Being able to compete. Essentially being a part of something. And he’s a true success story for college football. You know, when Marcell came in here, he didn’t necessarily buy into our culture. Took about a year, year and a half. Had a good year, and then had an average year and then got hurt, and now realizes what he missed out on. So, the adversity’s been a positive for his future.”
Ateman had alright seasons his freshman and sophomore years recording 276 and 268 yards respectably. And then in 2015, he became on the Cowboys’ most explosive receivers making big play after big play recording 33 catches of at 10 yards and 11 catches with at least 20 yards, including the Cowboy’s longest play from the line of scrimmage with an 82-yard touchdown against TCU, which puts him seventh all time in receiving plays at Oklahoma State.
He also played a pivotal role in the win against K-State hauling in a huge 4th and 8 grab to keep the Cowboys on the field for a game winning field goal.
“You ask our DB’s, and they’ll tell you he’s probably the quickest and hardest off the line versus press coverage.” said OSU receivers coach Kasey Dunn, “I mean he’s really difficult to handle off the line. You very rarely see him get jammed. So then, you couple that with being 6’4, 6’5 225 pounds and strong as hell, and it’s hard to cover him on some of those vertical routes.”
There aren’t many guys that when placed in similar situations, would respond the way Marcell did. Grades would start to slide, probably wouldn’t be back as healthy or in as good a shape as they were before the injury.
“It was hard for him.’ said Coach Dunn, “You know most times guys will go out and they’ll screw things up. Their academics will slide, and for him, it was quite the opposite. I mean, he ended up getting over a 3-point GPA and he was really involved in our meetings still. He was still working with Coach Glass and getting himself right for when that opportunity came back through again. So, he came back this winter in really good shape, you know with all things considered with his foot. So again, that says a lot about where he put his mind through the fall to get himself ready for the spring.”
Another person that’s excited for Ateman to be back on the field is Mason Rudolph. Rudolph, who was the 2016 Offensive Team MVP for the Pokes, posted a career best 158.94 QB efficiency rating as well as 4091 yards and 28 TD’s.
“Mr. Ateman looks good.” said Rudolph, “He’s healthy, moving really well. Just glad to have him back, he’s a big target, really good dude. One of my good friends. We’ve been here a while now together so excited to have him back. Like a said he’s a huge target, really friendly to throw the ball to.”
In the past six seasons under the tutelage of Coach Dunn, the Cowboys have ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense five times and ranked in the top 10 nationally in passing offense, pass efficiency, yards per attempt and yards per completion four times.
Add Ateman back into the mix of receivers such as James Washington, who leads all returning FBS players with 26 career receiving touchdowns and 19.3 yards per catch, which is highest among all returning Power Five receivers. Jalen McCleskey, who very quickly became one of Mason Rudolph’s favorite targets and hopeful standouts Tyron Johnson and Dillon Stoner, and the Cowboys are set to have, once again, one of the best receiver cores in the country.