DeGrate growing up, opening eyes to new role

Injuries to his teammates have forced freshman Victor DeGrate into a position that is causing him to grow up -- and fast...

Last year, Oklahoma State freshman Victor DeGrate caught a glimpse of what he believed was a program on the move.


That glimpse convinced him to make the trip to Stillwater, and now, due to a season-ending injury to Lawrence Pinson, that glimpse has thrust him into significant playing time.


"This (OSU) was the first visit I came on, and the first thing I noticed was that their program was on the rise," DeGrate said. "Coach Miles is a good coach. There's a lot of stuff they've shown me that made me want to be a part of this team."


DeGrate made the trip from one of OSU's recruiting hotspots, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, more specifically DeSoto, Texas. The several players on OSU's roster from that area helped DeGrate in the decision process and to ease his transition.


"I know a lot of them, and Tatum Bell, he went to my school," DeGrate said. "That was part of why I came here, so at least I knew somebody. And I know more people now than I thought I was going to know."


DeGrate had a solid high school career for DeSoto, posting more than 100 tackles in both his junior and senior years. After turning down a list of schools that included Arizona State, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, the high school standout has only one complaint.


"I don't get to go home as much as I want to," DeGrate said. "We don't have a lot of breaks, but that's a part of playing football. Football's not just football up here, it's a job."


Before the injury to Pinson, DeGrate received enough playing time to rack up 25 tackles, eighth on the Cowboys' season list. Those numbers could increase with DeGrate moving to second-string linebacker after the injury.


"I consider it as a privilege, but in a way it means I have to cut out all the unnecessary playing I was doing," DeGrate said. "I can't play like a freshman anymore. I've gotta show everyone that I'm able to grow up and be mature, and play football on a college level."


The injury has not only put pressure on him, but, combined with Elbert Craig's status, has affected the entire defense. However, DeGrate remains confident in himself and the rest of the team.


"Both of them played major rolls," DeGrate said. "I hate the only reason I get to play as much as I am is because Lawrence got hurt. I'd rather him be with us, him and Elbert, so they can both enjoy this because we're gonna go to the Big 12 Championship this year."


A big influence for DeGrate's confident attitude has been sophomore linebacker Paul Duren. Duren shot onto the OSU scene last season, leading the Cowboys in tackles as a freshman with 84.


"Paul is a big help," DeGrate said. "I go to Paul and ask him a question, and he'll break it down and explain it to me … And Lawrence has been a big help because I used to go to him all the time. I used to go to his room and talk to him if I was unsure about anything because he played my position."


All the advice has already paid off.


Defensive end Greg Richmond said in a year, DeGrate has the potential to become a solid linebacker in the Big 12.


Defensive lineman Clay Coe said DeGrate gets wide-eyed and excited in the huddle, but if he just calms himself a bit, he will do fine.


"They say when I get wide-eyed I'm excited, but that's just how I am," DeGrate said. "When I put on my helmet, my eyes get big. I guess it's just the part of me playing football. All my attention is on whatever I'm looking at."


He considers it as more focus than excitement.


DeGrate should get ample opportunities to bring his focus to the field against Kansas State Saturday.

He will play backup to Pagitte McGee, who will most likely get the start in place of Pinson.



Along with the work he does for and the O-State Sports Report, Matt Palmer is also the OSU football beat writer for the Enid News and Eagle. You can reach Matt at

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