Blake Jarwin really had no choice in the matter. Growing up a few miles west of the University of Oklahoma, the youth league football player was like nearly every other person in Tuttle, Oklahoma. He grew up rooting for the OU Sooners, specifically Tuttle native Jason White.
Jarwin was still in elementary school when White led OU to the BCS National Championship Game and won the Heisman Trophy in 2003. The current Oklahoma State fifth-year senior spent a few minutes Monday reminiscing about what it was like growing up in Tuttle, where the town lived and died with how the Sooners – and specifically White – performed on the football field.
“That’s a guy you look up to, a Heisman Trophy winner in your hometown. Of course, I was an OU fan growing up,” said Jarwin, who will be wearing the orange and black instead of crimson and cream when he plays in the Bedlam matchup between the seventh-ranked Sooners (9-2) and 10th-ranked Cowboys (9-2) on Saturday.
The 6-5, 248-pound Cowboy back would like nothing better than to walk out of Memorial Stadium with a victory and the Big 12 championship. An OSU win would mean that he would wrap up his career with a 2-1 record against OU (since he didn’t play in any games as a redshirt freshman in 2013).
“I looked up to him,” Jarwin said. “I moved there when I was in the second grade, and I watched him from them on. He actually lives a mile from my house now in Tuttle, and I’ve got to meet him a few times. He’s really a good guy, and helped actually me a few years ago when I went to see him. He told me to keep pushing and stuff like that.”
Jarwin was not a highly sought after prospect after his senior year at Tuttle High School, so he sent letters to both OSU and OU asking about walking on. The OSU coaching staff responded (and they’re glad they did), while Jarwin never heard back from OU.
“No, I never did, but that’s OK,” he said. “They’re loaded at tight end … I don’t take it personal. That’s just the way it goes. I found my way here and I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities by coach (Mike) Gundy and coach (Mike) Yurcich. I couldn’t be any happier to be where I’m at.”
Jarwin redshirted his first year at OSU in 2012, practiced but did not play in any games in 2013, and finally got on the field in 2014 as a third-year sophomore (catching five passes for 107 yards).
Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy awarded the walk-on with a scholarship prior to the 2015 season (along with other walk-ons Brad Lundblade and Chad Whitener). Jarwin didn’t disappoint last season, catching 17 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns while being named a first-team All-Big 12 selection at tight end and also earning first-team Academic All-Big 12 recognition.
Through 11 games this season, Jarwin has 16 receptions for 280 yards and one TD.
OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph says that while James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Jhajuan Seales and Chris Lacy have been on the receiving end of most of his passes this season it doesn’t take away from what Jarwin has provided for the Cowboys.
“I think we have used him; he’s been the lead blocker and he’s gotten so many key blocks, both him and (Zac} Veatch,” said Rudolph. “I think his receptions have been down because we have so many weapons. It’s hard to disperse the ball to all of our guys, but Jarwin has been solid for us all year. When he’s gotten the ball, he’s shown what he can do with it. He’s extremely athletic and makes people miss. I think he’ll play on Sundays.”
Jarwin still runs into White at Tuttle High School football games, and says the former Sooner quarterback has always been someone to offer advice.
“He’s been a great mentor for me in some situations, and I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” he said. “He was telling me, ‘One day you may want to look back and make sure to remember the journey, remember everything that’s happened to you. Coming to OSU as a walk-on is tough, and not everybody gets to where you are, so really sink it all in and let it set, and really appreciate everything.’”
Jarwin is hoping to create one more memory Saturday in Norman.