Kevin Lockett’s past can cast a long shadow.
Nobody knows that better than his son, Tyler, who is on the verge of stepping out of that shadow and creating one of his own.
Kevin twice led the Big Eight in receptions and finished as Kansas State’s all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns — three records that still stand today — easily making him the greatest receiver to wear the Wildcat jersey.
No pressure there for Tyler, who arrived in Manhattan not only following in the footsteps of his famous father, but also his uncle, Aaron, who later starred for the Wildcats at the same position.
Three great receivers. One family name.
“It was hard at times,” said Tyler — a three-time All-American and last season’s Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. “When I first got here, people compared me to my dad and my uncle. I always said I was in the middle of both of them. Sometimes they get our names mixed up, calling me Kevin or Aaron… I was wondering what the fans were thinking, trying not to mess up, knowing they had high expectations for me.
“And even though it was hard at first, I just had to stay true to God and try not to get caught up in what everyone else was thinking about me and my family and just play football. That helped take the stress away once I realized I didn’t need to go out there and try to prove something.”
But Tyler has proven something — that he just might be the best Lockett of them all when the season is over. He had 81 catches for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns last season — better than any single season Kevin or Aaron had for the Wildcats.
Now the senior goes into his final season needing 75 receptions, 838 yards and nine touchdowns to break all three school career records held by his father — marks that have stood since 1996.
“It would be a big accomplishment if I break them — my dad always said if anyone was going to break them, he hoped it would be his son,” Tyler said. “I’d say the same thing, my brothers or my kids someday. It’s a great opportunity, but who knows if I get there?
“I’ll do whatever God has in store for me. I just want to be a team leader. If I need to be a cheerleader, I’ll do that. If I get the records, I’ll celebrate it, but at the end of the day, that’s not what I’m focused on.”
The face of the 2014 Wildcats, Tyler said he’s just focused on winning games. He means it. Andre Coleman believes it.
“It’s genuine,” said Coleman, K-State’s second-year receivers coach and former teammate of Kevin. “That’s why you want to see him be successful. I see all the work he puts in. I see how humble he is. It’s real.
“I know this about Tyler — he wants to win. I think Tyler would accept not catching any passes if we can win every game this season. He’ll take that right now because he’s that kind of team guy.”
Tyler may be a team guy, but there’s no denying now that he’s also on the cusp of etching his name among the greatest to ever play at K-State — guys like Michael Bishop, Collin Klein, Mark Simoneau, Terence Newman, Darren Sproles, Jordy Nelson and even Kevin Lockett.
“He’s worked hard to create his own identity,” Coleman said. “And don’t be surprised if people aren’t talking about Kevin so much anymore. They’re going to be talking about Tyler now. They’re going to be saying ‘Tyler’s dad played at K-State once,’ not ‘Kevin’s son did this or that’...
‘That’s how special he is and how special his family is.”