CENTRAL — Jae’lon Oglesby was born during Daniel’s run of four state titles in eight years. When he chose to make football a big part of his life and eventually wear a Lions uniform, he had a simple goal.
“This is my hometown. What I wanted was to have a positive name,” Oglesby said. “I want to make my hometown proud of me and be proud of my school.”
As his prep career came to a close earlier this month, the senior did a little more than that. Oglesby, who repeated as Independent Mail Player of the Year, rushed for over 6,000 yards at Daniel, ensuring his name will always come up when discussing the greatest players in school history.
In his final season, the Clemson commit ran for 2,176 and 21 touchdowns to lead the Lions to a 14-1 record and their first state finals berth in 15 years. But stats were never a part of the equation for Oglesby.
“Jae’lon just wanted to win,” Daniel coach Randy Robinson said of the Shrine Bowler and Class 3A all-state selection. “He never once asked me for more carries or ‘I need more yards.’ Never came out of his mouth.”
In fact, each year Robinson has lessened the big-play threat’s carries.
“If you’re really thinking we have a chance to win it all, and we did, you’re thinking 15 weeks,” Robinson said. “You’re thinking how many times a week is he going to take that pounding inside. We had a personal goal of keeping him below 15 carries a game.”
Oglesby said he’s put his full trust in Robinson ever since his sophomore season. Before this year, Robinson explained Oglesby would spend a good part of the season creating opportunities for his teammates.
“It stuck with me,” Oglesby said. “What I do effects the whole game.”
Clemson fans also received a preview of what they might see from the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder the next few years when Oglesby lined up at receiver. He proved to be one of the best pass-catching backs Robinson has ever had, making 38 receptions for 557 yards and six touchdowns.
It is Oglesby’s vision, however, that sets him apart from the rest.
“He’ll come over to the sideline and say, ‘The backside linebacker cut over the top on that one. Can I cut it back next time?’” Robinson said.
“There are pro kids that don’t see stuff like that.”
Oglesby was at his best when it came to Daniel clearing its Upper State title game hurdle. He racked up 313 yards and scored three times in a 29-27 win over Chapman.
After managing just 10 yards in the first half against Myrtle Beach the next week, he kept his team in the game with 163 second-half yards. While he took the 24-21 loss that was won on a late Seahawk field goal pretty hard, Oglesby looks back on the season fondly.
“Some people say don’t get complacent,” Oglesby said. “But I felt accomplished with my team. A lot of people said we wouldn’t make it there and we made it there. That was our goal since we got to high school.”
When he heads down the road, Oglesby will not only have the weight of his hometown resting on his shoulders, but that of an entire university and alumni base.
That’s just the way he likes it.