Once the NFL Draft starts on Thursday, the wait is on for seven former Oklahoma State Cowboys. QB Mason Rudolph, WR James Washington, WR Marcell Ateman, WR Chris Lacy (Wide Receiver University confirmed), S Tre Flowers, C Brad Lundblade and OT Zach Crabtree.
While we wait to see which hat each Cowboy will wear, I got the opportunity to interview Ateman.
We talked about the NFL Draft preparation process, his time in the Cowboy orange and black, fulfilling a childhood dream and more. Enough teasers. Let’s get to it!
What are your plans for the draft itself?
“My family wants to do a little get together. Most of my family is from Texas anyways. I got family coming in from Houston and east Texas. It will just be a good little family thing.”
How has the process and the pre-draft events been going?
“The process has been good. It’s been everything that I could have dreamed of, especially with the Senior Bowl, the [NFL] Combine, my pro day and the workouts with teams. It’s been a blessing. I’m just really thankful for all this. I’m at a little NFLPA thing right now. It’s just a cool little deal just to be a part of it and to say I’m a part of it. It’s just a blessing.”
What's been your favorite part of the entire process?
“Just taking it step by step. Take it one thing at a time as a lead up to the actual draft. Just checking off the boxes as I go. Meeting new people and experiencing things that I’ve never experienced and nobody in my family has experienced anything like it. Actually being able to experience it myself is really cool.”
You just signed with Panini America trading cards. How cool is that?
“It was real cool. That’s another thing that I’m talking about. It’s one of those blessings that you don’t even know and didn’t think would come your way. Just being able to be on a Panini deal, period – it’s just so cool. The only bad thing I’ll probably have a lifetime hand cramp from signing all these cards. *chuckles* But it will all work out in the end.”
Was that something you dreamed about as a kid?
“Just having a playing card or seeing yourself on a playing card that people want – it’s just a really cool deal. You never know who – kids or people, period, that you may impact.”
What were the emotions that you were going through at your Pro Day knowing that it may be the last time you catch passes from Mason Rudolph or run routes with James Washington?
“It was a bittersweet moment. It was like ‘dang man.’ We were talking about it leading up to the Pro Day. We were just throwing to each other and running routes and getting things sharpened up and we were like, ‘Man, this could be the last time we throw to each other.’ We actually said that at the last workout that we all had together.”
How cool would it be to reunite with Rudolph and catch passes from your former QB at the next level?
“That would be just crazy. We would already have our timing down and we have everything that we’ve already worked on, then we are at the next level doing it? That would be a nightmare for teams.”
One of the knocks on your draft profile was your slow 40 time at the NFL Combine. What is something that you have that you think NFL scouts may be overlooking and you’ll be able to surprise people at the next level?
“Yeah I did run a slower time at the combine, but as they’ve seen in my Pro Day – which I got a lot of feedback from – was teams saying that when I run, I run my routes and when I play and even on my game film, I don’t look 4.6. They were just like ‘You look faster. I thought you would have ran at your Pro Day just to show that you are faster because you look faster.’
“But it’s my play speed. I feel like my game speed is much faster than me just running straight. There’s so much technique that goes into the 40, but I just said it is what it is and they just know that I’m a big guy. I go get the ball at its highest point and I compete.
“I feel like these are a lot of the things – which teams have told me. They were like, ‘Man, we don’t care about [your 40 speed]. You play fast, you compete, you’ll get the ball. That’s what we care about.’ ”
**Warning: First 24 seconds contains NSFW language.**
Who was the best DB you’ve faced so far in your career?
“I’ve faced a few. I’ve faced [former Baylor Bear] Xavien Howard – he’s at Miami [Dolphins] right now. I played Jason Verrett my freshman year when he was at TCU. I’ve faced – there were some good DBs. I didn’t go against him personally, but in the games just going against [former West Virginia Mountaineer] Karl Joseph. There are a lot of good DBs that I’ve faced, but those are three that I thought of right off the top of my head.
There has been speculation and rumors of the Dallas Cowboys drafting you to try and help replace Dez Bryant. What would it mean to be drafted by your hometown team?
Ateman paused for 10 seconds or so as he tried to collect his thoughts.
“Man…that would…that would be…uhh…just so crazy because I’m from Dallas. All my family wouldn’t have to go nowhere. I grew up watching the Cowboys. My family is a big Dallas Cowboys fan and growing up in the city and watching them all the time…to hear that they may [draft me] and then to be able have that star on me…that would be something special for me.
What’s the first thing you are going to buy after signing your contract?
*chuckles* “Whew I don’t know. I probably need to get a place – a little apartment or something in whatever city I end up in. My son and my girl are going to come with me. Just having a place of our own. Besides college, I haven’t had a place. It would be cool to get our first little apartment or something. Just we be together as a family.
What is one of your favorite memories from your career at Oklahoma State?
“There’s so many…that’s hard. It’s hard to pick one. It would definitely be one of the games, but the one that I think of would probably be my last bowl game – winning when we played Virginia Tech at the Camping World Bowl just because it’s like ‘Man. This is our last time.’ We got a lot of guys leaving and a lot of guys going to the NFL. I came in with a lot of them guys. It was like, ‘Dang this is our last game playing with each other.’ It was a great memory to get the win. We had a great time in Florida. So that will probably be one of the memories on top.
What are you going to miss most about Stillwater and Oklahoma State?
“The people. The fans are so electrifying when you are in [Boone Pickens Stadium]. Those fans are diehard fans for you, and they love you. The town is good. It’s a small town, but it’s a football town. Everybody shows so much love and has so much love for you. I’ll definitely miss my teammates and coaches along with all the fans at Oklahoma State and all the great relationships I’ve created along the line.