Oklahoma State WR Jalen McCleskey will transfer using new redshirt rule

Jalen McCleskey is using the new redshirt rule in a way most coaches probably did not anticipate.

McCleskey, a senior receiver for Oklahoma State, has decided to leave the program, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy announced Monday. Gundy told reporters that McCleskey has not been happy with his role to this point in the season.

“Jalen McCleskey is not with us anymore,” Gundy said per The Oklahoman. “He did not feel good about us getting the ball to him, so he’s decided to redshirt and transfer, so we’re gonna let him sit the rest of the year. That decision was made this morning.”

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Through four games, McCleskey is second on the team with 15 receptions but fourth in yardage (155 yards).

Oklahoma State wide receiver Jalen McCleskey has 167 catches for 1,865 yards in his career. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Oklahoma State wide receiver Jalen McCleskey has 167 catches for 1,865 yards in his career. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

McCleskey is using the new redshirt rule to his advantage

Before the season, the NCAA approved a new rule that allows a player to play in up to four games and still take a redshirt for the season. The idea behind the rule was to give freshmen a chance to see some game action while still preserving a year of eligibility.

It was something coaches were almost universally behind, especially in instances where injuries piled up late in a season and coaches had to decide whether or not to burn a player’s redshirt in order to help the team for potentially only a game or two.

McCleskey, a senior, is using it in a different way. His four catches for 52 yards in Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech gave him a total of 167 catches for 1,865 yards for his career. That receptions total is sixth in program history.

McCleskey was the third option behind James Washington and Marcell Ateman in 2017. But with both Washington and Ateman now in the NFL, McCleskey clearly expected to be more involved in the offense as a senior than he has been to this point in the season.

Since he has only played in four games, McCleskey can play the 2019 season at a new school, provided he graduates.

A new trend?

McCleskey isn’t the only player who has followed this path. Two Auburn players, receiver Nate Craig-Myers and tight end Jalen Harris, both played in games for the Tigers this season before deciding to transfer.

Both Craig-Myers and Harris specifically left the team this early in the season to use the redshirt rule and preserve a season of eligibility. Oregon running back Taj Griffin is doing the same. So is Arkansas receiver Jonathan Nance.

With four weeks of the season in the books, it would not be a surprise if others around the country make similar announcements this week.

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