JENKS, Okla. — Jalen Catalon remains one of the state’s top uncommitted prospects. The Mansfield Legacy product is one of just two prospects ranked inside the top 20 of the Fabulous 55 yet to pick a school. Catalon was more worried about his senior season. The four-star is projected to play safety or nickel back in college. He stars on both sides of the field for his team, starting at safety and quarterback.
He and his team started the season with a road game to Jenks (Okla.) and it didn’t go as planned. Not only did Legacy fall, but so did Catalon. The Texas target injured his left knee making a tackle in the second quarter. He tried to play the next series at quarterback before collapsing in pain. He returned for two series at quarterback in the second half before succumbing to the injury and watching the rest of the contest on crutches from the sideline.
— Mike Craven (@CravenMike) September 1, 2018
After the game, Catalon remained upbeat. He hopes the injury is merely a hyperextension that will keep him out for as little as a month. Texas is strongly in the mix for Catalon, along with programs like Arkansas, Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama and TCU.
“I’m in no hurry to pick a school,” Catalon said after the game. “I look at it like a test: If you have more time to study for it and get the best answer, why not take it? The coaching staffs have let me know I can take my time and I probably won’t make a decision until January. Probably around the Under Armour All-America Game.”
Catalon is a two-sport star. He plays center field in baseball and wants to play both sports in college. The Longhorns offered him that opportunity early in the recruiting process. The rest of the programs high on Catalon’s list followed suit. That’s made baseball a low priority on Catalon’s list of things he wants in a college.
“Baseball is secondary. Football is my big priority and baseball will take care of itself,” he said. “I’m not looking for one specific thing. The school I pick will offer me the best complete package.”
Texas holds a commitment from one safety in the class in four-star Chris Adimora (Calif.) and two cornerbacks, one of which — Kenyatta Watson II — who could play safety in college. The Longhorns are also chasing players like Tyler Owens, Lewis Cine and Noa Pola-Gates. The ideal class includes three safeties. Catalon is the top priority.
“My relationship with Craig Naivar and Tom Herman is great and growing all the time,” Catalon said. “We don’t even talk about football most of the time. Texas does a great job making you feel like more than just a prospect. They care about you, your family and how life is going off the field.”
Catalon is ranked 17th on the Fab 55. The 5-9, 188-pound prospect ranks as the No. 12 safety in the class and a national top 165 player, per the 247Sports composite. He participated in The Opening Finals and is an Under Armour All-American. Catalon recorded 196 tackles as a sophomore, earning all-state honors. He passed and rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior, as well as contributing 101 tackles in a year that ended with district MVP honors.
Recruiting remains in the rearview mirror for Catalon, especially now that he must overcome the injury.
“Helping this team win is the only thing that matters to me right now, and I’ll need to recover from this injury and figure out what I can do to get back on the field,” Catalon said. “The recruiting will be there when my senior season is over. I’ll take some trips, but only when it works with my schedule.”