Lil Sho. His nickname says it all, really. The moniker, for those unaware, belongs to Jalen McCleskey and the senior wide receiver from St. Paul’s (LA) put on a show on the big stage during the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium on Dec. 14.
The 5-foot-10 and 165-pounder, also an Oklahoma State commit, delivered the game-winner on an 18-yard touchdown reception from Johnny Weidmaier with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter to essentially secure the West a thrilling victory, 7-6, over the East.
“I knew that the ball was coming right to me. I had to make the play. On a big stage like this, it does not get any better, getting that W for my team,” McCleskey said. “I went out with a bang in the All-American Bowl, not many people out there can say that.”
There were plenty of memorable moments over the course of the game. It’s what happens when some of the nation’s premier prospects in the Class of 2015 are gathered in one place, at one time, and have a staff one-time NFL veterans as their coaches.
McCleskey and Weidmaier wouldn’t have been in position to nearly steal the spotlight if UTEP commit Trinity Benson had not done his part. On what started out as a trick-play, the wide receiver picked up 65 yards and moved the ball down to the red zone.
That set the stage for West coach Mark McMillian and offensive coordinator Arlen Harris to dial up the sequence for Lil Sho. “We wanted to put the ball into the hands of one our top playmakers, and the rest, thanks to Jalen, well that’s history,” McMillian said.
On the offensive side of the ball for coach of the East, NFL veteran George Teague and one-time professional Tony Banks got the most out of the quarterbacks on the roster, specifically speaking Indiana commit Austin King and Florida Atlantic commit Daniel Parr.
Anchored by linemen TCU commit Jozie Milton, Nebraska commit Christian Gaylord and McNeese State commit Grant Burguillos, Army commit Calen Taylor, Mississippi State commit Jonnas Spivey and Indiana State commit Dante Jones did well.
The accomplishments of McCleskey were well-documented. With the help of Utah State commit William Auwae, Boise State commit Brett Rypien and SMU commit Ben Hicks connected with Louisville commit Dahu Green and San Jose State commit Nico Lima.
NFL veteran Brian Dawkins helped on defense for the West with Nebraska commit Avery Anderson, Clemson commit Brian Dawkins Jr., San Diego State commit Davis Lewis and McNeese State commit Sage Seay. In the end, however, the day belonged to Lil Sho.