One To Watch: Jalen Jelks

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 24, 2013 at 1:00p

There are not many spots left in the Ohio State 2014 recruiting class. Some experts say there may only be 10 spots left; others are a bit more optimistic and think the Buckeyes could stretch it from the current seven commitments to upwards of 20. There are a number of names that are well known still on the board that have been talked about ad nauseam like Raekwon McMillan, Dante Booker, Demarre Kitt, Jabrill Peppers, and any number of quarterbacks. 

Jalen Jelks is gaining recruiting steam

There are lots of opportunities for the next group of young men with the talent and the desire to join Urban Meyer's "Chase" for the next Buckeye crystal ball.

One player who does not yet have the chance to say "yes please" to the Buckeyes, but would be more than happy to receive that call is Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista defensive end Jalen Jelks, a 6-foot-7, 250 pound lineman who has recently picked up major scholarship offers from some of the nation's elite football programs.

Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin have all offered the junior, who was born in Sidney (Oh.) but raised in Arizona since he was four years old, despite the fact that he's only played two years of competitive football.

"I played freshman football, but got injured and couldn't play," Jelks said. "I was able to start on JV when I got back and was moved to varsity."

When you're 6-foot-7, it's easy to get attention, but Jelks admits that he was not really ready for this sudden surge in recruiting interest. He is aware, however, of the best way to handle it.

"It was all very overwhelming at first," Jelks said of the attention, some of which got started on the forums of Eleven Warriors.

"Over time you just have to try and get used to it and make sure you make the right decisions."

For Jelks, some of those "right decisions" start in the classroom, and that's a situation that he's working hard to repair after stumbling out of the blocks as a freshman.

"My grades are fine," he said. "I'm doing some stuff to make up from freshman year, but that will all be done really soon."

Being an Ohio native, despite never really living in Ohio, Jelks doesn't deny that he – and his family – are Buckeye fans. He gets back to the Buckeye State as often as he can to see family, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes would automatically jump to the front of the line if they ended up coming through with a scholarship offer. There's a number of things that matter to Jalen and his family, and his mother, Devan, will be sure that the priorities remain in order.

"My main concern is academics," his mother, who works for a local university said. "After that, is a coach that cares about my son. It's not just about how well he plays (football)."

Jelks could play inside or on the edge.

So far, Jelks and his parents have been able to make a few visits together, and that will be the start of what should be a busy summer. They've visited Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA so far, and intend to make stops at Tennessee, Washington and Oregon this summer. Jelks says he has no favorites at the time and that it's too early to think about making a decision.

"I like every team that's recruiting me a lot," he said. "I have bonded with each school in different ways. I need to take some visits and see what the schools are all about."

Of course, if the childhood favorite Buckeyes upped their interest, Jelks concedes that he would have to find room for them as well.

"I was born a Buckeye fan, and they are definitely in the running. I've always been a fan," he continued. "I watched them play Texas a few years ago in the Fiesta Bowl. I would like to get up there and see them, for sure."

He was, however, just recently in Cincinnati for the Armour camp and was happy with his performance.

"Overall, I felt faster than a lot of the kids there, and bigger than a lot of them, too," Jelks said of his camp experience. "I think the best part of my game (right now) is my reach and my ability to get off (of blocks). I know that I can use improvement in every area of my game, though, always."

With one current defensive line commitment (Dylan Thompson, although Sam Hubbard could potentially play DE and maybe Marcelys Jones gets moved to defensive tackle), the Buckeyes are actively searching for another rush DE with offers out to dozens of them.

Is the time coming for Jalen Jelks? 



Comments Show All Comments

skid21's picture

Do we know if he has heard from the OSU coaches at all?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Has not yet - but there's good reason to suspect it's coming.

dljelks's picture

fingers crossed!

Devan & JJ Jelks

chicagobuckeye's picture

Good Luck to you and your son

bedheadjc's picture

Where are all the downvotes because of Waycracken spotting this kid?
Edit: Ahhh, there^^^ are a few. People without a sense of humor about themselves....priceless.

WayCraKen's picture

The downvotes I get are against me. I am sure they have nothing to do against young Mr Jelks. To me it sounds like he is doing the right things. Nice article. 

dljelks's picture

Thanks for all your help with this Waycracken! We appreciate it.

Devan & JJ Jelks

WayCraKen's picture

Youre welcome. I talked to coach Fox Snowden back a few years and talked him into visiting Sidney. I wish the best to youre family. 

BrutusBuckeye90's picture

I hope they offer him. He could be a great addition!

Buckeye for Life! Go Bucks!

dljelks's picture

thanks for the support

Devan & JJ Jelks

BrutusBuckeye90's picture

Anything I can do for another Yellow Jacket. ;-)

Buckeye for Life! Go Bucks!

cajunbuckeye's picture

I'll second that. ;-) It's really exciting to find out about your son. I hope he becomes a Buckeye, but best of luck whatever happens. He seems like a fine young man with a very bright future.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Northbrook's picture

I agree with whoever said he might make a very good OT project. Great athleticism and size.

13THandSummit's picture

What kind of injury did he sustain that caused him to miss two years?

dljelks's picture

He didnt miss two seasons. He missed most of his freshman year because of a knee injury. It wasnt a major injury but due to a major growth spurt it was slow healing.

Devan & JJ Jelks

13THandSummit's picture

I got my math mixed up thinking he was a senior. Thanks.

zbd's picture

I would skip. A guy who has lived and visited many schools out west and has grade problems as a freshman?   No thanks.

dljelks's picture

Well ZBD..... it would be your loss. Thank the good lord above your name is not Urban Meyer. First of all he was born in Ohio. Secondly he has only visited 3 schools out west. 2 of which are in Arizona. Third I believe most kids have a hard transition moving from middle school into dealing with the rigors of high school work. Oh and did I mention he has a three sport athlete freshman year? Lastly and most importantly, Jalen has more passion and drive than any kid I have ever met. His gpa isnt a 4.0 but you can ask any adult that knows him, he is the most well behaved, polite, driven kid you will ever meet. You will never hear him address an adult as anything other than yes ma'am or yes sir! You will never find a team mate that has played with Jalen that will say he gave up in the third, even though he played both sides of the ball for the entire game. No my son works hard on the field all game long. So your comment ZBD doesn't hold much weight to anyone that knows my son.

Devan & JJ Jelks

WayCraKen's picture

My advice would be Ignore people like ZBD on sites like this. Some people say things over internet that they would never say in person. The cowardly grows a pair in forums. You have many more on here that are pulling for him. 
By the way can you tell us what his 40 time is and what he bench's?

BrutusBuckeye90's picture

If ZBD met JJ in person, i'm not sure he would even get a squeek out. LOL!

Buckeye for Life! Go Bucks!

WayCraKen's picture

ZBD would be the one saying YES SIR.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Jalen has been incredibly polite and was a pleasure to talk to - no doubt about it from my conversation with him that the academic issues his freshman year were a wakeup call for him and won't be repeated.

Crimson's picture

I bombed my freshman year of HS too.  I also got a full academic scholarship to undergrad.  Notice how I didn't tell you my definition of bombing was.
Cut any recruit a break until you actually hear that they aren't receiving an offer because of their grades; that isn't the case here.

Bucks43201's picture

same took me a little while to adjust in high school. I had turrible grades as a Freshman, then turned it around and ended up getting into tOSU, and later graduating with solid grades.
Academics are a marathon, not a sprint.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

MN Buckeye's picture

Waycracken is turning out to be a prophet this time.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

It sounds like Jalen has a lot of great potential!  I really liked reading this article Jeremy.  He's got great size and seems to have really upped his game from his freshman year.  I think he's make a great addition to the Buckeye Nation.  I don't have a problem with him going to look at other schools to see what is out there.  He's got to be sure that he has picked the right one.  I think OSU is one of the very elite schools that can offer a great education and is also a school that will really develop him toward the possibility of having an NFL career.  Good Luck Jalen, hope you become a Buckeye in the end!!
Go Bucks!

patriot-missile's picture

I like this kid a lot. He has great size and good speed. Plus he is a Buckeye born and bred and looks to be a mature and solid kid. I hope he gets an offer and accepts.  We need a big and quick DE.  Go Bucks!

Kellen Winslow - Where can I get a sweater vest like yours?
Jim Tressel - Hit the weight room and you can borrow one of mine.