Marcell Ateman has missed all of the 2016 football season after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. The medical staff recently gave Ateman the go ahead to return to running at practice but only in straight lines without making cuts. He will be released to start making cuts later this week. This will be a huge test for Ateman’s healing foot.
When asked about his thoughts on Ateman’s progression going forward, Coach Gundy told John Helsley of NewsOK:
“You can’t predict whether he’ll be sore or not. They all progress differently from that injury. If he can’t comfortably make cuts within a couple of weeks, we have to get together and talk about, ‘Do you want to burn another year? If not, you bring him back.”
It sounds to me that if Ateman can’t go by the West Virginia game, they will start to consider the redshirt.
So, what are the pros and cons of Ateman taking the redshirt? Well for starters, you are missing out on some big production. Ateman, who was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, hauled in 45 receptions for 766 and 5 touchdowns last season. This was good for 3rd on the team in yards and 2nd in touchdown receptions. Additionally, you lose out on another weapon that opposing defenses have to scheme against. This not only makes for less eyes on James Washington, but also can allow for even more openings in the running game with defenses keying on Washington, Ateman and the rest of the outstanding Oklahoma State receiving corps.
On the other hand, is it really worth it to bring Ateman back for such a short period of time? If he misses Kansas and West Virginia, that means he will only play in four games this season, and lose an entire year of eligibility. Not to mention it’s his senior year.
With the emergence of Jalen McCleskey, and the increased production from Jhajuan Seales and Chris Lacy, the Cowboys are finding ways to make up for the loss of Ateman. Now, I’m not saying that having Ateman back wouldn’t be amazing, but wouldn’t you rather have him back for game one next year, ready to take on the full 2017 season?
If Washington decides to forgo the NFL and Ateman redshirts, the 2017 Cowboy receiving unit would include Washington, McCleskey, Ateman, Tyron Johnson (transfer from LSU) and multiple stud incoming freshmen.
In my opinion, if Ateman isn’t ready to play by Homecoming, I think the best option is to redshirt him. That being said, it will definitely suck having to wait all the way until next season to see plays like this: