ALEDO — Running back Jase McClellan is a forgotten star in a 2020 recruiting class that includes fellow five-star running back Zachary Evans of Galena Park North Shore. Maybe it’s because McClellan committed early to Oklahoma. Maybe it’s because he arrived on the scene so early, earning offensive MVP honors in a state title game as a freshman.
Whatever the reason, McClellan isn’t concerned.
“This is my last year to leave my stamp on this program,” McClellan said during a recent spring practice. “My vision has improved a lot as I’ve played more on varsity.”
His head coach, Tim Buchanan, understands why his 5-10, 201-pound star is ranked as the fourth-best running back in the country and the No. 8-ranked player on the Fabulous 55. McClellan enters his senior season with 5,200 rushing yards and 95 touchdowns in his three-year career. His production and potential remind many of former Aledo great Johnathan Gray, who ended up at Texas.
“Jase is a dynamic back,” Buchanan said. “He can catch the football. He can run the football. He’s developing as a leader because if he is playing fast and hard, the rest of the team will follow suit. He’s done a great job maturing when adversity faces him.”
Buchanan points to the South Oak Cliff game in 2018 as a perfect example of McClellan’s evolution as a player.
“They were being physical with Jase and he made a decision to start running over people and run as hard as he can, and that was a great thing to see from a kid I’ve watched since he was in middle school,” Buchanan said. “That makes him a complete running back.”
McClellan committed to Oklahoma in July 2017. That doesn’t mean other programs aren’t in touch.
“I’m with Oklahoma. That is the team I felt comfortable with and liked the most, but I’m keeping my options open,” he said. “I’m still listening to Texas, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.”
McClellan isn’t the only Texas target at Aledo. Sophomore wide receiver JoJo Earle is the state’s top slot receiver in the 2021 class. He’s one of just six wide receiver prospects in his cycle to already hold an offer from Texas. The four-star is the No. 28-ranked player at his position, per the 247Sports composite rankings. The 5-9, 170-pound playmaker is the No. 10-ranked player on the Next 25.
“I’ve only coached one other guy at the high school level that is as dynamic as JoJo, and that is Troy Walters,” Buchanan said. “JoJo has all the tools to become the best I’ve coached. He’s already a great high school player, but if he continues to work like he does, he can be truly special.”
Texas is one of eight teams to have offered Earle. He picked up his first as a sophomore following a 100-yard performance in his first game as a varsity starter. Texas Tech pulled the trigger. Programs like the Longhorns, Michigan and TCU followed. Nearly every major program in the country is expected to visit Aledo in the spring to watch McClellan, Earle and the rest of the Bearcats.
“It’s shocking to get those calls at 15 years old. I was young and I didn’t even know how to talk to those coaches. It was a growing experience,” Earle said. “I try to stay humble and remember how much effort it took to get here. That same effort is how I stay here.”
Earle was the district newcomer of the year as a sophomore after recording 1,090 yards and 16 touchdowns on 65 receptions. He added 266 yards and three touchdowns on just 25 carries. He’s an elite offensive weapon who prides himself on versatility. He mentioned Oklahoma State and Texas as two schools sticking out, admitting it’s early in the process and he’s in no rush to pick a school.
“The academics and the tutoring are important to me in case I do get hurt or football isn’t an option,” he said. “I want to get my Master’s. It’s also important to know how the team is run. I’m versatile. I can run the ball and play slot receiver, as well as play defensive back. I want to get more physical on the field. I need to block linebackers and that takes strength.”
Texas assistant coach Drew Mehringer is building a relationship with Earle.
“He’s a good guy. He’s always making sure we’re okay and checking on our grades,” Earle said. “He stays involved with the guys he’s recruiting.”