STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 5: Wide receiver Chris Harper #3 hands off the option to wide receiver Tyler Lockett #16 of the Kansas State Wildcats in the first half agains the Oklahoma State Cowboys on November 5, 2011 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State defeated Kansas State 52-45. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
With apologies to Tyler Lockett, who I'm sure has heard more than enough of this, it's time to take a look at what K-State's most exciting young receiver/returner needs to do to reach the same level as his relatives. After all, we've still got 96 days until Missouri State.
The bad news for Tyler is that - partly due to injury, and partly due to the fact that he wasn't part of an offense as predicated on passing as much as Kevin and Aaron during what were by far the two most prolific seasons for freshman receivers in school history - he has a lot of catching up to do. The good news is that both Kevin and Aaron slowed down significantly as sophomores.
I was very young, so I can't really say what happened to Kevin, and it's a little confusing since he still had Chad May as his quarterback. For Aaron, the answer is much simpler.
He went from catching passes from Michael Bishop during best passing season by a quarterback in the Bill Snyder era to catching passes from an inexperienced Jonathan Beasley. Aaron also no longer had the benefit of playing alongside Darnell McDonald to distract defenses, which was surely a huge key to his record-breaking freshman season.
Still, Tyler's got a lot of work to do to catch Aaron (4th in receiving yards and 6th in TDs all-time) and, well, no one's expecting him to catch Kevin (1st all-time in receiving yards and TDs). Let's take a look at the numbers.
|Fr.||50 rec/770 yds, 4 TDs||44 rec/928 yds, 6 TDs||18 rec/246 yds, 3 TDs
|So.||39 rec/583 yds, 3 TDs||33 rec/531 yds, 3 TDs||???|
|Jr.||56 rec/797 yds, 13 TDs||36 rec/584 yds, 2 TDs||???|
|Sr.||72 rec/882 yds, 6 TDs||24 rec/357 yds, 3 TDs||???|
|Totals||217/3,032, 26 TDs||137/2,397 14 TDs||???|
If you were to extrapolate Tyler's numbers from where he was before the season-ending injury, he would have finished with and 26 receptions and 355 yards. Still behind Kevin and Aaron, but at least within striking distance of the latter, who had to endure that disastrous Ell Roberson/Marc Dunn combination at quarterback in his senior year.
Of course, any discussion of Aaron has to mention that he scored three touchdowns and averaged 22.8 yards as a punt returner his junior year, then also returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a senior. As you'll no doubt recall, Tyler was fairly successful last year as well, earning All-Big 12 second team status for leading the nation with a 35.2-yard average on kick returns to go with two touchdowns.
So what can we realistically expect from Tyler as he enters what will hopefully be the second of four productive years? Well, he certainly won't be his dad, who truly proved his worth by having arguably his best season as a senior, with the merely average Brian Kavanagh as his quarterback.
He seems to have largely the same skillset as Aaron, plus four inches and consequently a few pounds. Tyler can beat you deep and he can make some guys miss, but he's probably not going to win a lot of jump balls or be a great possession receiver.
No one would benefit more from an improved deep ball from Collin Klein than Tyler Lockett, and it may be costly that they didn't get much of a chance to work together this spring because of injuries. Other factors working against him include that K-State doesn't seem to have any great passers in the pipeline, and Bill Snyder showed us he's perfectly content to use the running game until teams stop it, unless that team is Oklahoma State and the game is on the line.
Nonetheless, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I will never bet against a Lockett.