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Jalen Reagor is a man on a mission, but it’s about more than football.

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The junior wide receiver understands his platform and wants to maximize it.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When asked if he was a Heisman candidate, Jalen Reagor didn’t hesitate.

“Definitely.”

And he’s not wrong. As he astutely pointed out, he had over a thousand yards despite having three different quarterbacks throw him passes over the course of the season, despite dealing with injuries at every position on the field, despite himself playing at only “60% or 70%” himself, according to Gary Patterson.

Reagor went on to say that “people are going to vote how they are going to vote”, but that’s not going to stop him from making his best case to be in NYC next December, and a first round draft pick next April.

The rising star won’t talk about his NFL future yet, he has more work to do. And, he joked that he might come back for one more season to play defensive back, where he starred in high school initially and where Patterson says he could have an even brighter NFL future and be an even higher draft pick, noting that “he has the best backpedal on the team”.

Reagor is on his way to breaking a bunch of TCU Football records, and whoever wins the six-headed quarterback battle will likely be the guy that knows how to get him the ball. The Frogs found creative ways to make him a playmaker even when opponents doubled and tripled him, and the onus falls on Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper to continue to do so in 2019. Despite not having a verifiable second fiddle on the field, Reagor believes in the wide receiver corp as a whole, saying “everybody is hungry. They’re proven - they just haven’t been proven to the media and proven to everybody else.”

It will be up to someone (Taye Barber, maybe?) to find a way to prove it to everyone else.

Speaking of proving it, Reagor isn’t just looking to prove himself on the field, but to prove he can make as much - or more - of an impact off of it. The son of former NFL-er Montae Reagor understands that though football has made him known, it doesn’t have to define him - and he’s out to make sure that it doesn’t. “My hometown, Waxahachie - I’m known. It’s bigger than just me.”

“Bigger than me.” Those words came in response to a question about a recent tweet of Jalen’s, where he shared a photo from some time he shared with adults with intellectual disabilities as part of his own personal community outreach:

When asked why he took time out himself to do so, his answer came quickly. “Most people wish they could do stuff like that. I can take time - a few minutes, a couple hours - just to go put smiles on people’s faces. It’s not about just ‘football, football, football’ and being locked in, there’s other things in the world. And football can be here today, gone today. My thing is, I want to have an impact on people’s life. So when I leave, they’re like ‘his presence was felt’, then I’ve done my job.”

And he has a cause that he would like to have his presence felt with, too. “I feel like mental wellness is a big thing to me. There’s certain things that we [athletes] have built up that we can’t say because of our platform. Most people don’t understand that we are people outside of just being football players. People are so caught up on what we do on the field, they don’t understand that we have life problems, we have stuff that bothers us, just like the normal person that doesn’t play sports.”

While athletes like Kevin Love, Brandon Marshall, and Michael Phelps have opened up recently about mental health and their personal struggles, it’s still somewhat taboo both societally and in the locker room. Fans are quick to come after a player who admits weakness in any fashion if they don’t live up to the standards they are expected to, and some of the toxic masculinity that dominates the news cycle can also find its way into athletics and making fun of anyone who admits that things aren’t always right. That’s something Reagor is aware of, and wants to change. “It’s still frowned upon [to speak about mental health issues]. People will ask you to speak about it and then they’ll bash you. The same person that interviews you, that asks you the questions, will bash you about what you said - even though it’s positive.” He went on to talk about the toll fans can take on players young and old when things don’t go their way. “People will say that they understand, but they don’t because they’re not in those shoes. They don’t know what it’s like to lose a game and then go check your instagram DMs or your Twitter DMs - no one knows what that’s like. People just assume that it’s okay, but that’s not right.”

Reagor’s comments show a wisdom far beyond his years, and a maturity that will make him a leader on and off the field for TCU Football and beyond. He’s an incredibly talented young man on the field, and an even more special person off of it. We are fortunate to have him representing the Horned Frogs in both aspects.

And, next time you get frustrated with a player for a mistake or a team for a loss, try and remember that they, at the end of the day, are people too.

And stay out of their DMs.