STILLWATER — Marcell Ateman has always admired Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon.
So why not attend the same school where those two players starred?
Ateman, a receiver from Wylie (Texas) East, is one of the headliners expected to sign with Oklahoma State Wednesday, joining Dallas Skyline's Ra’shaad Samples to form a duo of four-star pass-catchers that hope to be the next to thrive in the Cowboys’ Air Raid spread offense.
The pair originally looked like it would be a trio, before Tyler (Texas) John Tyler's Fred Ross, a longtime OSU commit, made a last-minute switch to Mississippi State Tuesday night.
“Just knowing they put out some good wide receivers like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon,” Ateman said. “People I look up to. Knowing they went to the NFL and did good, it’s like Oklahoma State is a good wide receiver school.”
Ateman fits the physical outside receiver mold, using his 6-4, 200-pound frame in high school to out-jump and out-muscle cornerbacks for the football.
That size is part of the reason Ateman’s first love was basketball. But by his junior year of high school, he was improving in football at a much faster rate. Soon after, he had more than 15 offers, including Texas Tech, Tennessee, Michigan, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri.
Ateman pledged last May to the Cowboys and has remained solid since, despite former offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s departure for Southern Miss. That’s because his primary recruiters have been wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn and head coach Mike Gundy, and both have assured the Cowboys’ offensive system will not change no matter who is hired as the next coordinator.
When Ateman arrives in Stillwater, he’ll likely become roommates with an old pal in Samples. They played on the same basketball team for about four years starting in sixth grade and remained friends despite going to different high schools.
Once Ateman committed, he started nudging Samples to join him in Stillwater.
“He was always messing with me like, ‘Nah, man, I ain’t never gonna go to Oklahoma State,’ and all this," Ateman said. "I think it was just part of his plan to mess with me. He called me after he verbally committed after The Opening camp (over the summer) and just started laughing.”
With Ateman and Samples coming in — and plenty of talent returning — OSU is loaded at receiver for 2013 and beyond.
But Ateman is setting his goals high as a true freshman.
“I’m never going to say I’m going to start or I’m going to be all this,” Ateman said. “There’s already good guys there, so I’m definitely going to have to go in there and work and fight for a starting position.
“But that’s what I want to do is start as a true freshman.”