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April 24, 2010

Former Sycamore safety McCleskey gets call from Jets

Gets invited to New York's three-day mini-camp for rookies

TERRE HAUTE — Although he’s a talented player — strong safety to be specific — Indiana State senior Donye McCleskey knew there was a good chance that he would not be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Sure enough, when the seventh and final round concluded Saturday afternoon in New York, McCleskey had not heard his name called.

“I knew there was a chance that I could be drafted late,” he said in a phone interview Saturday night, “but I knew there was a chance I might not get drafted too. So I wasn’t too disappointed.”

McCleskey heard his name later Saturday, however, when agent Chris Murray informed him that he’s been invited to the New York Jets’ three-day mini-camp for rookies as an undrafted free agent. McCleskey, who’s from Dayton, Ohio, but still lives in Terre Haute, will report Thursday.

“My plan is to turn this mini-camp into a contract with the Jets,” he told the Tribune-Star. “I’m used to being on the bottom and trying to work my way out of a hole.”

With the Sycamores in 2009, McCleskey posted 92 tackles (46 solo and 46 assisted), two interceptions and one sack in 11 games.

According to Gil Brandt on nfl.com, the 5-foot-11, 209-pound McCleskey ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 and 4.47 seconds, bench-pressed 225 pounds for 18 repetitions and did a vertical jump of 36 inches this spring.

McCleskey said he can play free safety and special teams in addition to strong safety.

“They are in need of safeties right now, so it’s a great opportunity for me,” he added.

Already a member of the Jets is punter Steve Weatherford, a former multi-sport standout at Terre Haute High School.

Coached by Rex Ryan, the Jets lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game in January.

McCleskey, who’s majoring in construction management, said he has about a year’s worth of academic requirements left to graduate. He plans to get his degree someday, regardless of what happens with his football career.

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