FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma State senior receiver Tylan Wallace was asked by his coaches several times this season if he wanted to sit out the last series or two of a game.
“He wouldn’t go out of the game,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “He wanted to finish.”
After missing the end of last season because of a torn ACL, Wallace is the Big 12’s leading receiver and now gets one more college game in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. The No. 19 Cowboys (6-2, 5-2 Big 12, No. 15 CFP) play Saturday at TCU.
“He had an injury and came back during a difficult year with the virus and a lot of players opting out, and just different reasons for kids to not come back and compete. And he’s done just the opposite of that,” Gundy said. “He’s finishing the season with his team and he’s shown that he can come back from the injury and compete. And he’s done his team a huge favor, and he’s done himself a huge favor with the NFL draft.”
The Cowboys, who also have to make up a game at Baylor postponed by COVID-19 issues, still have a chance to get into the Big 12 championship game. They are the only league team with a win over No. 12 Iowa State, but will need help to play in the Dec. 19 title game.
TCU (4-4, 4-4) has won three of its last four games and can finish with a winning Big 12 record after starting 1-3. The Horned Frogs are home for the first time in four weeks.
Wallace had 86 catches for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018, and was having another big season last year before getting hurt — 53 catches for 903 yards and eight TDs in eight games. In the same number of games this year, he leads the Big 12 with 46 catches for 785 yards, and is second with five TDs. His 3,297 career receiving yards are the most among active FBS players.
“I like Tylan. He’s one of those guys that is a really good football player. Out of Fort Worth and it’s really good to see someone from here go on and be successful,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “One of the harder things about being at TCU so long is you only get a chance to recruit 20-25 guys a year, and there’s 350 D-1 scholarships.”
JUCO transfer running back Dezmon Jackson made his first start for Oklahoma State last week in place of injured backs Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown. Jackson finished with 36 carries for 235 yards and three touchdowns — he could have had another TD but slid down inside the 10 in the final minute so the Cowboys could run out the clock against Texas Tech. The 235 yards were a Big 12 single-game high this year.
“I’m surprised that he could carry the ball 36 times and at times five to six times in a row and play over 75 plays in the game,” Gundy said. “He did impress me from that standpoint, his ability to stay in the game and compete.”
While TCU has had some injuries in the secondary, making it more difficult to defend Wallace, sophomore cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is tied for the Big 12 lead and is third nationally with 10 pass breakups.
Freshman running back Zach Evans, TCU’s first five-star signee, had 12 carries for 100 yards against Kansas last week in his first start. That was part of the 337 rushing yards by the Horned Frogs. Evans missed a lot of valuable practice time and the season opener because of contact tracing due to COVID-19, even though he didn’t test positive for the virus.
Garrett Wallow arrived at TCU as a safety and is now the senior linebacker is again their leading tackler (66). He led the Big 12 last season with 10.4 tackles per game.
“It’s been a crazy experience,” Wallow said. “It’s actually helped me out a lot. I got to learn the defense from multiple positions. It just builds my IQ and it’s going to help me on so many levels intelligence-wise.”
TCU had to postpone its only scheduled non-conference game against SMU in September because of a virus outbreak in the Frogs program. Unable to reschedule that rivalry game, the Frogs added a Dec. 12 game against Louisiana Tech, which had a scheduled game at Baylor in September called off when the Bulldogs had COVID-19 issues.