August 5, 2011

Coach: Pack in great shape with Jalen McDaniel

There was a very, very brief time when 2013 prospect Jalen McDaniel was committed to NC State. He withdrew his commitment less than a day later, but according to Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey, the Pack did nothing wrong and are still in great shape with the star pass catcher.

"He committed to State then decommitted 24 hours later but a lot of that was because he did it without talking to his mom," Bailey said. "It's not that his mom didn't want him to go to NC State - his parents like State, it's a good place - they were just disappointed he kind of left them out of the loop. He was with [2012 commit] M.J. [Salahuddin] at the time that M.J. called [and committed] so he got kind of caught up in the moment.

"But NC State is still in great standing with him. He understands about [the advantages of] playing close to home, he wants his mom to be able to see him play and he really has a good relationship with Coach Bridge."

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder would be excellent way to kick off the 2013 recruiting class for head coach Tom O'Brien and company. The athletic playmaker led his team in receiving last fall and continues to improve, according to his coach.

"The Wolfpack definitely sit in really good shape with him and he's one that if State can get him back, he would be a crown jewel of a recruiting class," Bailey said. "He was our leading receiver as a sophomore and this spring, he did a great job of going to some camps. His development last year was impressive and he just keeps getting better. It's scary to think how good he can be by this time next year as a polished receiver.

"Jalen's a great character, a super football player. He's got a chance to be one of the top five players in the state next year. He's got that great 6-2, 6-3, 195-200 pound, Julio Jones-type body. You're not going to press him a whole lot, he's a physical kid. He's got good speed - he doesn't have that Julio Jones speed - but he's a 4.5 [seconds in the 40-yard dash] guy, but that isn't slow at 200 pounds. He's got great charisma, getting better as a route runner - although he is pretty good for a rising-junior."

Bailey is far from the only coach that has been impressed by McDaniel. The coach hears raving reviews from any coach that sees him particpate in a camp or combine.

"He's done a lot of these VTO combines," the coach said. "At those things, he's come away with awards or the people call me afterwards and say, 'Coach, we gave it to a senior but your kid was really the best guy there. We couldn't justify giving it to an underclassmen.' He's got a real nice chance to be a four or five-star guy."

Although McDaniel has emerged as one of the area's top receivers, Bailey had to work to get the athlete to even come out for the football team as a freshman.

"He's a great athlete but he almost didn't play," the coach remembered. "He was going to play basketball and didn't show up for the first day of football his freshman year so I had to call his mom. She said, 'well I never got to see him play middle school football and I know he's a good basketball player.' I had to say, 'M'am, he's a division I receiver right now, even if he doesn't grow another inch. But if he doesn't grow another inch, he's a 6-3 basketball player and they are a dime a million.'

"So she got him out there, to her credit, and she's a wonderful lady. He came out and he was uncoverable as a freshman on jayvee. He probably scored 15-20 touchdowns."

NC State is McDaniel's lone offer at this time, but Bailey provided some insight into who else could factor into the youngster's recruitment.

"He likes Clemson, he's been to Clemson's camp and I've got a kid playing at Clemson, but I've also got a kid playing at State. At least he'll know some people there and M.J. is going there, M.J. is his buddy, so that doesn't hurt.

"I'd say right now it's probably between Clemson, NC State and maybe Auburn. Auburn is the big name right now but he's got relatives in Alabama. If I'm a State fan, the only worrisome thing is that his father lives in Alabama and he's got grandparents in Alabama. That would worry me a little bit, but I think State's in great standing with him."

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