Lockett’s big day can’t save Wildcats

By Joel Jellison

With Tyler Lockett on the field Saturday, it seemed like no record was safe.

Staff photos by Sarah Midgorden(Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett scores on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jake Waters in the second quarter on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Lockett had 12 catches for 278 yards and three TDs).

The junior wide receiver caught 12 passes for a school-record 278 yards with three touchdowns, and he broke the school records for career kickoff-return yardage (1,760) and all-purpose yards in a game (440).

Lockett seemed to be on fire against Oklahoma, so much so that fans spotted his coat catch fire during the game when he stood too close to a sideline heater.

But once again, like his record-breaking game against Texas this season, the Wildcats lost, this time 41-31 to the Sooners.

Still, Lockett’s performance had his teammates buzzing, so much so that even defensive players had to give him props.

“That’s like video game stats,” K-State linebacker Blake Slaughter said of Lockett’s numbers. “He’s unreal, and it speaks for itself. He’s a guy that has a lot of talent, a lot of care and a lot of discipline.

“You put all of those together and he’s hard to stop.”

Lockett also returned five kickoffs for 162 yards, racking up an all-purpose yardage total of 440 that crushed the previous record. Darren Sproles previously finished with 351 in the 2004 season, and Brandon Banks did it against OU in 2009.

The game also gave Lockett a big boost in his climb among several other receiving record categories. The junior moved to sixth in single-season receptions (68), seventh in yardage (1,103) and ninth in touchdowns with eight.

Lockett’s first touchdown of the game came on a 48-yard pass from Jake Waters in the second quarter. And Waters and Lockett hooked up for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the next drive.

Before the first half was over, Waters hit Lockett for a 90-yard touchdown pass.

“The day that Tyler had just proves that he is one of the best in the nation,” Waters said. “He made me look a lot better today, too. His routes and just how he gets open. The other team knows that we want to get the ball to him because he is our big time playmaker, but somehow he still continues to just get open. It just amazes me how he does that.”

Lockett’s 90-yard pass reception was the longest since his uncle Aaron Lockett caught a 97-yard pass in the 1998 season. But this Lockett became the first out of his uncle Aaron and father Kevin to have a 1,000-yard season with his performance against the Sooners.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tyler might be the best of him.

“Well, I think Tyler’s a lot better — you can tell Kevin that,” he said. “I’m sure he’d want that — I’d want my son to be better than me. But it’s a great family — I loved Kevin Lockett. He was a great young man and I’m proud of his son and the way he’s played.”

It was Lockett’s sixth 100-yard receiving game this season and the eighth of his career — the fifth-most in school history. Lockett broke the single-game receiving record with 237 yards at Texas this season, giving him two of the school’s five 200-yard receiving games in its history.

Senior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson, who had his own solid game with three catches for 54 yards and a 43-yard reception, said he’s come to expect big things out of Lockett on a regular basis.

“When I see him perform like that, I don’t get surprised,” he said. “You can tell my reaction when he scores, I just expect that out of him. He’s a great receiver, he does some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in practice and in the games.”

Staff photos by Sarah Midgorden(Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett scores on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jake Waters on Saturday. Lockett had 12 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns).

To put Lockett’s season in perspective, his 1,103 yards have come mostly in nine games, with the junior missing most of one game and all of another. Still, he’s managed to put up big numbers.

And since he missed two straight games with an injury, alongside Thompson, he’s only come back more motivated.

“What really motivated us was those two games where we had to sit out together,” Thompson said. “He came up to me on the sideline and he said ‘bro, I hate sitting out, I’m going to do my part to prepare when we come back.’ That motivates me.”

Even though Lockett had a big day, as did the whole passing game, the end result still left K-State coach Bill Snyder unsatisfied. While Lockett and Waters had some big hookups, they weren’t always in sync.

And some of the mistakes proved costly.

“Tyler had a bunch of catches today, but he also had some drops, which is not the norm with him,” Snyder said. “We had some high throws, that’s something that we have to be better at. Everything that we got was with big plays. We didn’t move the ball well on offense in terms of drives. We had one good drive there at the end, but, by and large, everything was big plays.”

Lockett has had a spotlight on him since he arrived, and he’s been productive almost from the start. Thompson said Lockett’s contributions to the team go beyond the field.

And being long-time friends with Lockett, he benefitted from playing alongside him.

“I really can’t put into words how much he means to me,” he said. “I consider him my little bro, but that’s probably someone that I admire the most on this team and I’ve learned the most from. A good receiver always steals from people that he admires. A lot of the things I do, I’ve seen him do.

“I admire that guy. I love him to death. I consider us family.”

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