The most talked about football player in some time – even though he has yet to run out on Boone Pickens Stadium – that has not carried the ball, thrown a pass, made a tackle, or even worn a jersey is a name so familiar to Oklahoma State fans. It's Barry J. Sanders, but as we have fully covered and analyzed here as it has been just about everywhere else that Cowboys go to read, hear, or discuss their team.
Last week at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was asked over and over about the son of the Heisman Trophy star that as a player Gundy handed the ball to over 500 times.
This past weekend I was asked in Houston by a Cowboy fan why Barry J. Sanders didn't end up at Oklahoma State in the first place? Was it by Sanders' choice? Gundy's choice? Was it a mutual decision?
Having covered that recruiting situation very closely, I answered it was mutual. Sanders had grown up in Oklahoma State football. He had gone to just about every home game while he was crushing the high school competition with his Oklahoma City Heritage Hall teammates. He was a regular on the campus and on a first name basis with so many Oklahoma State students and I'm talking about many that had no connection with OSU athletics.
Barry J. Sanders, through his father and through his experiences growing up, really experienced life at Oklahoma State. He wanted something more and Stanford fit with his desire to get known in the media and as it turned out on the Stanford campus, in the political world. He now has a college degree and a connection in both.
Mike Gundy knew the pressure that would be on Sanders with his name. His father's Heisman Trophy season has been one of the most celebrated accomplishments in the school's football history. In one year he ran for over 2,850 yards and scored 264 points. Now his son would be expected to at least be a chip off the old block. Fans would expect Gundy and the coaching staff to throw Sanders out there and see what he could do whether he was ready or not. The pressure would be there.
Now, four years later Sanders has career totals of 115 carries for 672 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Sanders is aching to have the big college career that he has expected. Gundy and Oklahoma State are looking for options to jump start an anemic running game.
It all fits better now for Barry J. Sanders to be an Oklahoma State Cowboy than it did when he was coming out of Heritage Hall High School in in 2012.
There are still no guarantees but Sanders, Gundy and everybody else involved, including Oklahoma State fans, are looking forward to seeing what happens. That is going to be a big part of the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming football season.