When Oklahoma State fans woke up on Monday, they probably figured that Saturday’s beat down by Texas Tech would be the worst loss they would take this week. They were wrong. Gundy announced during his Monday press conference that star slot receiver Jalen McCleskey has decided to use his redshirt and transfer to a new program.
McCleskey will not play another down in Stillwater. His decision to leave is apparently due to his frustration that he’s not getting the ball enough.
“Jalen McCleskey is not with us anymore,” Gundy said on Monday. “He did not feel good about us getting the ball to him, so he’s decided to redshirt and transfer. We’re going to let him sit for the rest of the year. That decision was made this morning.”
Gundy confirmed that they would not play McCleskey and will honor his wishes, though the coaching staff did try to change his mind.
“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. We’re certainly not going to tell our quarterback, ‘We want you to throw to this guy’ for certain reasons. He didn’t ask us to do that, but that’s what you’d be doing.”
The Pokes have a deep receiving corps, but this loss is going to hurt. McCleskey had the most returning production of the group, and is sixth in receptions in school history.
McCleskey’s receptions have continued to drop off since his sophomore year. In 2016, he hauled in 73 passes for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season he caught 50 passes for 645 yards and five touchdowns. So far this season, he has 15 receptions for 155 yards, but he does have a couple of touchdowns. If you average it out, he was on pace to haul in 45 catches on the year, not including a bowl game.
From McCleskey’s point of view, he’s right. He isn’t seeing the ball as much as he used to. From Gundy’s point of view, he’s also right. Only Tylan Wallace, who has been unbelievable this season, has been targeted more. Though, he does have nearly twice as many receptions as McCleskey.
There’s no word yet on where McCleskey may end up.
“I did not ask him where he wanted to transfer to,” Gundy said. “I only went over the procedures we have in place here. Then, obviously, he’s free and welcome to do whatever he wants to do.
“I want to make this clear: I’m not upset with the young man. I’m just being honest with you. There’s no reason to beat around the bush. It is what it is.”