Kansas State fans have seen their share of memorable quarterback-wide receiver duos over the years.
From Carl Straw connecting with Frank Hernandez for the game-winning touchdown in coach Bill Snyder’s first win, to Ell Roberson hitting James Terry deep to beat Oklahoma in the 2003 Big 12 championship game, playmaking receivers and QBs with the ability to get them the ball is nothing new here.
This season — through two games — another noteworthy tandem is brewing, and this one includes a legacy in that K-State lineage.
Just as his father Kevin, who made the highlights hauling in circus catches from quarterback Chad May, Tyler Lockett is quickly becoming Jake Waters’ go-to guy.
Waters’ eyes lit up, and a big smile graced his face when asked about his developing rapport with Lockett following K-State’s 48-27 win over Louisiana Saturday night.
“With Lockett, when he gets so wide open, I think, ‘I just gotta get it to him.’” Waters said. “I know what he’s gonna do, how he is going to run his routes. It’s big.”
Waters must, because he’s found Lockett 15 times so far this season for 224 yards — including a high-arching 56-yard bomb that hit Lockett in stride for a touchdown against North Dakota State in the season opener on Aug. 30.
Lockett caught seven passes in that game for 113 yards. He followed that with another eight receptions for 111 yards against Louisiana on Saturday. Lockett became just the 14th player in K-State history to notch back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. He also became the only Wildcat player to accomplish the feat the first two games of a season.
Still, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound burner isn’t looking at receiving yards as the measure of his value to the Wildcats.
“It’s really just however I can help the team,” Lockett said. “If it’s me catching a lot of balls, then hey, that’s what it is. If it’s me blocking, being a cheerleader, sacrificing my body, those are the things I want to do, because as long as we come out with the win that is all that matters.”
Lockett now has four 100-yard receiving games, putting him ninth in school history. He could have plenty more big games, too, with Waters delivering the ball. After all, Waters passed for more than 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns last season at Iowa Western, breaking the junior college record with a 73.3 completion percentage.
The apparent bond between quarterback and receiver started last spring and grew even more this summer and took its current form during fall camp, Lockett said.
“Fall camp came and we just really got into it,” he said. “He comes in here and watches film every single day. I kind of told him, ‘this is how I run this route, and this is how I run this route.’ So, just like he said, he already has the feel of how I run routes.”
Always quick to recognize teammates, Lockett noted that Waters’ work has put him on the same page, not just with himself, but all of the Wildcat receivers. One area in particular that they have become increasingly more comfortable with is making big catches after a broken play.
“I think, just knowing that even if they don’t stay in the pocket and the play breaks down that the play is not over,” Lockett said of this quarterbacks. “We have quarterbacks who can run, who can keep on moving, and all we have to do is continue on with the play and don’t give up. If they tuck the ball and run, then we block, but most of the time they’re gonna get it to us.”
The luxury of being able to throw to a guy like Lockett is something that Waters isn’t taking for granted.
“Oh, it’s great,” said Waters, who has 558 yards and two touchdowns this season, completing almost 72 percent of his passes. “When you’ve got a guy with that kind of speed… you obviously want to get him the ball as much as possible. I’m lucky to have him.”
They should have more opportunities to hook up this Saturday as K-State hosts Massachusetts in the Wildcats’ final nonconference tilt of the season, beginning at 6 p.m.
Snyder sends note
A note from Snyder to North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen went viral on Twitter over the weekend, with K-State fans and Bison fans alike sharing their admiration for the sportsmanship of the longtime coach.
Even after losing a tough game, Snyder shared how impressed he was by the play of Jensen and his teammates.
“Congratulations Brock,” Snyder wrote. “I was truly impressed with you & your teammates. You played so very well, virtually error free & with such poise. I wish you a great year & hope you achieve all you desire. Please share my thoughts w/your teammates. Warm regards, Bill Snyder”
On Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference, Snyder said he often sends notes to the opposing team, regardless of the game’s outcome.
“I do it after virtually every ballgame, to young people who I thought played well against us or the coaches for their preparation,” he said. “It’s just a congratulatory note and wishing them well.”