Young Devereaux hitting his stride

Learning in the shadows of experienced reciever Rashaun Woods and really, really, really, really experienced reciever Gabe Lindsay -- Tommy D. is learning what it takes to make it in Division I...

Late in the second quarter against Texas Tech Saturday, Oklahoma State ran a receiver sweep.


Instead of seniors Gabe Lindsay or Rashaun Woods, freshman wide out Tommy Devereaux took it in from 14 yards for the score.


"I got the ball and it was just open," Devereaux said. "Rashaun set a good block. Shawn Willis had good blocking downfield … I had one man to beat, got to the sideline."


From there, Devereaux lunged into the end zone for his first collegiate score.


"That was desperation," he said. "I'm on the one-yard line; I've gotta get in. So I dove for the pylon and did what I had to get in there."


Devereaux has joined a host of true freshman that have contributed on the field this season. Players like linebacker Victor DeGrate and defensive tackles Brad Girtman and Marque Fountain have all added strong efforts. While Devereaux's four rushing yards and four catches for 22 yards don't seem impressive, the experience he has gained is the key.


"I'm learning a lot," Devereaux said. "Playing collegiate football is really about experience. Once you have experience you don't make freshman mistakes, after a while it gets old. Playing a lot really helps."


When Devereaux first arrived in Stillwater, immediate playing time was not a priority.


"I really thought about it. I really wanted to redshirt, gain more weight, get a little faster, learn more," Devereaux said. "Coach said, ‘we're gonna need you this year. We don't have anybody to back up Gabe (Lindsay).' I took it into consideration, and went ahead and played. I'm glad I played instead of redshirting."


This year, in fact, may be the perfect year to play as a true freshman receiver. Devereaux has the opportunity to get advice, on the field, from two talented receivers.


All-American receiver and preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Woods has been hailed by many as the best receiver in the country, and Lindsay is in his sixth year as a Cowboy after a redshirt freshman year and a medical hardship in 2001.


"Rashaun and Gabe help me out a lot," Devereaux said. "They get my self esteem up, and they tell me what I need to know, what I need to do. Little specific things like little inside things that help a lot. And I use them day in and day out."


Few freshmen have the opportunity to learn from a teammate with as much experience as Lindsay. In fact, when Lindsay began school at OSU, Devereaux was still two years from getting a driver's license.


"It feels really good 'cause I can watch him everyday," Devereaux said. "(Tell him) One piece of the play and he'd know the whole play because he knows the system so well. So I just feed off him, and I'm right behind him in everything he does, watching and learning."


While Devereaux had planned on making his way to one of the coasts for college, he decided on OSU so his family could see him play.


"That's why I came here," Devereaux said. "It's close. I was going to go to UCLA or Florida, but that's so far away, right on the coast. I needed something close to my family."


In doing so, Devereaux joined two former classmates at Duncanville High School in Texas – sophomores Vernon Grant and Daniel McLemore.


"Our coaches at home can feel real good because a lot of the guys from the same school are playing, like Vernon, Daniel McLemore, and we all come in playing early," Devereaux said. "It makes our program feel real good where we came from."


And he's not just talking about McLemore and Grant.


Devereaux decided to attend OSU before his best friend could make up his mind. That best friend happened to be freshman Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, touted as one of the best high school defensive linemen in the country.


"Everyday, he wouldn't tell me (where he would go); he wouldn't tell his dad," Devereaux said. "I just got into him everyday, making little jokes, making fun of him. We're best friends, so I was like, ‘You gonna miss yo boy. You ain't gonna see me anymore.' He finally just realized that we're gonna need each other down the run. I'm glad he made that decision. I feel more comfortable with my best friend here."


As do many OSU fans and coaches.


While Lawson-Kennedy hasn't hit his stride yet – only eight tackles in limited playing time – his potential remains impressive.


With Duncanville High players coming in pairs the past two years – Grant and McLemore last year and Devereaux and Lawson-Kennedy this year – it is hard to tell who might be next.


"My guess, maybe (quarterback) Pierre Brown and (running back) Courtney Smith," Devereaux said. "I don't know yet."


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