In my opinion, the Cowboy that epitomizes what playing Oklahoma State football is all about is someone like former linebacker Matt Monger, a walk-on who earned a scholarship and then went on to receive All-Big Eight Conference honors in the 1980s. He was a tough, hard-nosed player who did everything in his power to win.
There have been several players like Monger play for the Cowboys since he wore No. 90 more than 25 years ago, and they could also be an example for today's players as to what it means to play at Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys are fortunate to have one of those players suiting up each and every day in redshirt freshman Cooper Bassett. The tight end from Tuttle, Okla., grew up wanting to play for Oklahoma State and dreamed of one day catching a touchdown pass for his beloved Cowboys.
That dream came true last Saturday in OSU's 34-7 victory over Baylor at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.
"I've bled orange since I can remember. Since I put on pads I wanted to play football for OSU. Playing backyard football or catch with my dad, when he'd throw me passes and every time I'd make a big catch I pretended in my mind that I was scoring for OSU. Saturday I finally got to do it, and all that hard work, blood, sweat and tears, came to a head," said Bassett.
"I know it's just one touchdown catch but for me it meant a lot more growing up an OSU fan. It was sweet," added Bassett, whose 19-yard scoring catch from Zac Robinson gave the Cowboys a 24-0 lead early in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-5, 259-pound Bassett would like nothing better than to catch another touchdown pass and help the 13th-ranked Cowboys upset the third-ranked Texas Longhorns on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The 19-year-old Bassett has suffered right along with Cowboy fans in recent seasons as Texas has come from behind several wins during its current 11-game winning streak over OSU. He was in Boone Pickens Stadium when Longhorn quarterback Vince Young rallied his team from a 28-9 deficit for a 47-28 victory in 2005.
"I've been a part of these games as a fan, and some of them have hurt," said Bassett. "I know what the OSU nation, if you want to say, how they feel, and how they feel after those games. I can use that as motivation on top of how bad I want to win as a player, and hopefully we'll get the victory (this year)."
Bassett knows its more likely that Robinson will throw a touchdown pass to Hubert Anyiam, Justin Blackmon or Dameron Fooks on Saturday night, but he's going to be prepared just in case he gets another opportunity to celebrate like he did against Baylor.
"I'm not flashy on the field by any means but if I'm open and Zac throws it to me, I definitely have confidence in my hands to catch it. I might not be used a lot but when I'm called on it's my job to catch it. I'm a football player. I'm here to play football, make plays and catch the ball and block, so that's what I'm going to do," Bassett said.
"I think the tight end, especially me playing that backside tight end a lot, you definitely know that your main job is to block. If you get a pass thrown your way or a touchdown then that's just icing on the cake. This week we'll try to get in there and try to bloody some noses and open up some lanes for Zac (Robinson), Keith (Toston), and Beau (Johnson) and anyone else who is carrying the ball," he continued.
Bassett spent last year redshirting and then was so far down the depth chart that his biography wasn't even included in OSU's 2009 Spring Football media guide. He began fall drills as the fourth-string tight end and has made the most of his chances following the early season departure of Jamal Mosley.
Although he always dreamed of catching a touchdown pass for the Cowboys it wasn't even a thought just two months ago prior to the season opener against Georgia.
"I would have told you that you definitely have the wrong guy," Bassett said with a laugh when asked if he would have imagined just eight weeks ago that he would be on the receiving end of a Zac Robinson touchdown pass.
"But the way things turned out, I've gotten about 15 or 16 reps every game, and Zac threw me a couple of passes this week and I got a hold of them. I'm not known as a flashy guy by any means, I'm known more of a blue-collar tight end who gets in there to block, but I was glad that Zac threw me one. I kind of joked with him on the sideline (afterward).
"But I was recruited here to play football and make plays, so if they need me to block, I'm going to block, and if they need me to catch, I'm going to catch, as long as I can do it and as good as I can do it. It was awesome."
How did Bassett go from third- or fourth-string tight end to playing 15 or 16 plays a game? "God's put me in this position and given me this body and skills, and put people around me … he's blessed me in so many ways," he said.
"As a little kid if you'd have told me that I was going to score a touchdown for Oklahoma State, that would have just been it for me. That's what I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid, and I finally get to do it. It was an amazing experience. I have a great time every day. Even before the (TD) catch, just playing for OSU and blocking for (my teammates) every day is great. Now with those two catches and that touchdown, it's just icing on the cake."
But one more – especially against the Longhorns – sure would be nice.
A Cowboy Born and Bred
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