The debate was bound to happen.
Who is the better Lockett?
(Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett gets past Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin in the first half last Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Lockett had a school-record 278 yards receiving on 12 catches — including touchdowns of 30, 48 and 90 yards).
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops believes he’s settled that debate. After all, it was his Sooners who had absolutely no answer for Tyler Lockett last Saturday when he racked up 440 yards of total offense, including 278 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 12 receptions — both Kansas State records.
“I think Tyler is a lot better,” Stoops said following the Wildcats’ 41-31 loss to Oklahoma. “Tell Kevin that. I’m sure he’d want that. I’d want my son to be better than me. It’s a great family. I loved Kevin, a great young man, and I’m proud of his son and the way he played.”
Stoops was an assistant coach at K-State when Kevin was rewriting the Big Eight record books — finishing as the league’s all-time receptions leader with 217 catches for 3,032 yards from 1993-96.
But as good as Kevin was, he never had a season like his son is having this year. With two games remaining — against Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence and the bowl game next month — Tyler already has 68 receptions for 1,103 yards and eight touchdowns. The junior from Tulsa, Okla., ranks second in the Big 12 in receptions per game (6.8) and yards per game (110.3), and first in all-purpose yardage (162.2).
Tyler is the only Lockett to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. Kevin’s best season, he finished with 72 receptions for 882 yards and six touchdowns in 1996. Tyler’s uncle, Aaron, had 44 catches for 928 yards and four touchdowns in 1998.
The youngest Lockett also has his father and uncle beat for the single-game performance. Tyler’s 278 yards and 12 catches on Saturday broke his own he set earlier this season at Texas when he racked up 273 yards on 13 receptions.
Kevin’s best games were in 1996 when he had 11 receptions for 168 yards against Kansas and 12 catches for 157 yards against Oklahoma. Aarons’ best effort came against Louisiana-Monroe when he had six catches for 188 yards.
So, who’s the better Lockett?
“If I talk to my dad about that, he’s still gonna say he’s the best,” Tyler said Tuesday. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to say that until it gets through his head.
“Regardless, I still think he’s the best.”
So where’s Aaron fit into the pecking order of Lockett lineage?
“He says he’s the best athletically,” Tyler said. “Everybody is going to have their little say-so and opinion… when it comes time we’ll probably let my grandpa, John Lockett, determine that.”
Tyler has as advantage over both Kevin and Aaron because he still has another year ahead of him. Already, Tyler is considered by some to be the best receiver in the Big 12, some even comparing him to the Washington Redskins’ Santonio Holmes.
What he did Saturday against the Sooners needs to be put in perspective to fully understand just how special of a game it really was. Not only was it Tyler’s second 200-yard game this season, but it was the fourth-best single-game performance by a receiver in Big 12 history. His all-purpose yards mark was 89 yards better than the previous record — 351 total yards by Darren Sproles in 2004 and Brandon Banks in 2009. This season alone, Tyler has climbed 18 spots to No. 2 in school history with 4,053 all-purpose yards, behind only Sproles.
(Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the first half against Oklahoma last Saturday. Lockett finished a school-record 440 all-purpose yards).
Though Tyler was pleased with his game Saturday, he said it won’t have the lasting effect one would expect because the Wildcats lost the game — just as they did at Texas when he first broke the yardage record.
“It would feel a lot better if we got a win out of it,” said Tyler, who was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday. “It was the same thing at Texas. We were that close and lost. And then last week, we were that close, and then lost. It’s always going to be something I remember, but that loss will always be tagged on it too.”
Even though their team won, Oklahoma defensive backs Cortez Johnson and Aaron Colvin — a First Team All-Big 12 defender — might always remember Saturday’s game as well. Lockett burned those two all day — totaling six catches for 206 yards and touchdown receptions of 30, 48 and 90 yards by halftime alone.
Just about anytime Lockett found himself with single coverage, quarterback Jake Waters found a way to get the ball to his favorite target.
“Once you see it, you have to know how you’re going to run your route and you have to win,” Tyler said. “That’s the biggest thing, to win against the defender. They were trying to shut down our running game, so we had to make the best of every opportunity.”
Lockett said one way he prepares for an opponent is by trying to figure out how he would defend himself in certain situations.
“You look at yourself on film and then say, ‘If I’m DB, how would I guard Tramaine Thompson, Tyler Lockett or Curry Sexton?’” he said. “Once you scout yourself and figure out how you’d guard yourself, you work on it out there so you’re always a step ahead of the opponent.”
Tyler seemed to be several steps ahead on Saturday. Waters, who passed for a career-high 348 yards against the Sooners, is still amazed by Lockett’s performance.
“Tyler, he was incredible,” he said. “Watching the film, I was shaking my head because I had kind of forgotten about all the things he did against one of the best corners in the Big 12. Some of those passes were one-on-one and I just gave him a shot and he went and got it. It seems like he’s always open. I just have to get him the ball and let him go to work.
“That gives me confidence to have a player as special as he is — I’m glad he’s on my team.”