Mansfield Legacy’s Jalen Catalon is one of the top high school football players in the nation.
The 4-star safety earned Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 from the Star-Telegram, Associated Press and District 10-5A. He was also a nominee for the Tom Landry Award. Catalon was district MVP in 2017.
A favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year again this season, things took an unexpected turn when Catalon was ruled out for the remainder of his final season just before Legacy’s Week 2 game vs. Crowley.
But that didn’t stop him or the colleges that have offered as Catalon narrowed his recruitment to four schools: TCU, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Prior to Legacy’s Week 3 game with Mansfield, Catalon said that colleges that have offered were going to stick by his side despite his unfortunate mishap. He holds 23 offers and is projected to commit with Texas, per 247Sports.
“All the schools said they were staying solid with me and just wished for me to get better, and that was good to hear,” Catalon said. “Texas, OU, TCU and Arkansas said they were sticking with me and that was good because those were the schools that were catching my eye.”
Catalon, who also plays quarterback, injured his left knee during Legacy’s game with Jenks, Okla. in Week 1. He injured it while making a tackle on defense late in the first quarter. Catalon was flushed from the pocket on the Broncos’ ensuing drive and picked up nine yards, but went down without contact.
He started the second half at quarterback, but played two series before finishing the night on crutches.
“It’s good to know that those teams were solid with you regardless of what happens,” Catalon said. “It made me happy to know they had that much faith in you and that nothing was going to get affected in my future. I’m blessed to still have an opportunity to play at the next level.”
While his recruiting will slow down due to the injury, Catalon did say he’s still trying to go to a few games and make his visits. His plan is to commit in January.
“I may change some stuff up, but I’m still eying January as a commitment date,” he said.
Catalon recorded 276 tackles the past two years with 13 for loss, 10 pass deflections, four forced fumbles, five recoveries and 12 interceptions. He accounted for 2,234 yards and 28 TDs last season for the Broncos, who had their deepest playoff run ever, to the state semifinals.
“Playing here at Legacy was a blessing. The atmosphere and the fans were crazy and everyone was so supportive,” Catalon said. “I was down for a couple days, but they picked me back up. My teammates said they were going to finish this for me.
“It was also a blessing not only to play for this school, but for the city of Mansfield. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it. I didn’t finish it the way I wanted, but God does that for a reason and I’m going to trust his process and move forward.”
Catalon will still be on the sideline whenever he can this season to help coach his teammates.
“I’ll help the quarterbacks and safeties, and share my knowledge,” he said. “I’ll be supportive and be there for them.”