TCU WR Jalen Reagor: Had to ‘son ‘em’ on TD catch
Heck, he put heightened expectations on himself by declaring he’d be up for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver next season.
“Mark my words,” Jalen wrote on his Twitter account earlier this week.
That mindset is nothing new, though. It’s something that’s been instilled in him growing up.
Being a member of the Reagor household meant understanding the “Four D” mantra that helped his father, Montae, last nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive tackle.
Dedication. Determination. Desire. Discipline.
“You’ve got to be dedicated to something. You’ve got to be determined to be the best. You’ve got to always have the desire to prove you can do it. Then you’ve got to be disciplined enough to do the right thing, better yourself.
“He’s done that and he’s handled himself very well. He knows there’s an expectation and a legacy to carry on.”
The Reagor legacy seems to be in good hands with Jalen early on in his college career.
Jalen needs just 30 receiving yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark, which has only been accomplished three other times in school history. Reggie Harrell did it in 2003, and Josh Doctson accomplished the feat in 2014 and 2015.
Jalen is doing it as a sophomore on a team that will be fighting for its bowl lives on Saturday against Oklahoma State, while the two aforementioned did it as upper classmen in double-digit win seasons.
Plus, Jalen is putting up these numbers during a year in which TCU has lost its top two quarterbacks, Shawn Robinson and Mike Collins, to injuries.
With that being said, it’s hard to argue about Jalen being the best player on this year’s TCU team. His 64 catches, 970 yards and eight touchdowns are quite a feat, something that coach Gary Patterson called one of the bright spots on the team.
Montae felt this type of season would come for Jalen.
“I knew that this year was going to be a breakout year for him,” Montae said. “Jalen has always been a kid who hasn’t wanted to settle. He’s always been a kid who wanted to improve. He’s always wanted to better himself.
“In the summer, he was in the weight room and conditioning every day. Coach [Don] Sommer and his crew do a great job of developing these guys, making them bigger, faster, stronger. This season is exactly what it should be for Jalen.
“A few dropped balls here and there, but hopefully he gets to 1,000 yards and helps propel us to a sixth victory.”
Montae, a frequent spectator at TCU’s practices and games, sees the irony in father being a defensive tackle and son being a wide receiver. But, outside of the typical builds for players at each position, both require a similar mindset.
A defensive linemen has to play with explosiveness and a sense of urgency to get into the backfield and tackle the runner or quarterback. A wide receiver has to play with explosiveness and a sense of urgency to get open on a route, or block down field on a run.
“The mindset of the two positions is very similar – we’re always in attack mode,” Montae said.
Jalen went into attack mode at Baylor last Saturday, keeping TCU’s bowl dreams alive. He ducked and dodged and spun his way into the end zone on a 65-yard jailbreak screen, and added another 37-yard TD run on a reverse out of the wildcat formation.
Spectacular plays have become the norm for Jalen this season.
He’s scored a receiving touchdown in six consecutive games, matching a school record set by Doctson. He’s gone into the end zone throwing up the deuces like Kansas City Chiefs star receiver Tyreek Hill. He’s used the phrase “Son ‘em” when he pries a ball away from a defensive back.
Jalen knows he has to make those types of plays for this team, especially with the team losing its other big-time playmaker, KaVontae Turpin, in the middle of the season and being down to its third-string quarterback Grayson Muehlstein.
“I mean this in the most humble way … it’s expected,” Jalen said after his two-TD performance in Waco. “When we line up everybody is expecting me to get the ball, be a decoy, so when I do get the ball, I’ve got to show why I’m drawing so much attention.”
Defenses will place more and more attention on Jalen as his career progresses. There’s not many players in the country who can turn what looked to be a negative play on the jailbreak screen into a 65-yard touchdown.
But, as Jalen and Montae said, this type of season is expected. And, next season, the new expectation is to be among the top receivers in the country.
The individual honors are attained more easily on a winning, championship contending team. Jalen understands that after being largely overlooked this season.
“The thing I’ve been most impressed with [Jalen] is off the field, maturity aspect since the beginning of the season,” Patterson said. “He would be characteristic of our whole team. We’re so much further along where we are right now with understanding of how individual stuff doesn’t really matter if you’re not winning ballgames. People don’t talk about that very much.”
That’s why Jalen has been willing to do whatever he can to help the team succeed. With Turpin gone, he’s been more than ready to return punts and kickoffs in addition to his receiver duties.
Again, it all goes back to his dad’s “Four D” approach.
“His work ethic and mindset and focus have always been locked in,” Montae said. “And I’m pleased and encouraged by the way, not only coach Patterson, but the whole entire staff, giving my son an opportunity. He’s grateful. I’m grateful. He wants to do everything within his power to help the team win.
“He wants to leave a legacy. I’m very, very pleased with his progress. It’s kind of crazy to say, but there’s always room for improvement. Right now, I think he’s in good place. He’s very hungry to get that sixth win.”