16 days to kick-off against North Dakota State and our countdown shifts to the most electrifying player on the team. Tyler Lockett is too exciting to waste away reading some intro, so let’s get started.
When Chris Harper was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL reinforced something K-State fans had been saying all year: while the Wildcat receivers may not put up huge numbers (K-State threw the second fewest passes in the league last year), they’re among the best in the nation. Harper led the team with 857 yards receiving in 2012, and Lockett was second on the team with 687 yards. However, Lockett led all receivers on the team with a 15.6 ypc average as well as with four touchdowns (remember, the team didn’t pass at all in the red zone). He may have received a few accolades last year as well, according to his bio on K-State’s football’s website (feel free to scroll down if your eyes begin to glaze over – no one will blame you):
2012: Earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors as an all-purpose player by the Associated Press, while he was an honorable mention selection at wide receiver by both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press… Also earned votes from the coaches as the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year… A member of the initial Walter Camp Player of the Year Award watch list who was named an honorable mention All-American as a kick returner by Sports Illustrated… A First Team All-Big 12 kick returner by ESPN.com and Phil Steele… A Midseason All-American as a kick returner by Phil Steele and All-Big 12 selection by CBSSports.com… Also a Midseason All-Big 12 kick returner by ESPN.com and a Second Team Academic All-Big 12 performer… Started 11 games at receiver, ranking second on the team with 44 receptions for 687 yards and a team-high tying four touchdowns… Ranked fifth in school history in receptions (44) and yards (687) among sophomores… Had a career night offensively at West Virginia, setting career marks in receptions (9), yards (194) and receiving touchdowns (2)… His 194 yards were the fifth-most in school history and the most by a sophomore receiver in school history… Caught five passes for 75 yards against Oklahoma State while returning two kickoffs for 127 yards, including a 100-yard touchdown return… It was his second-career 100-yard kickoff return, becoming the first player in school history to accomplish the feat… Returned two kickoffs for 119 yards against North Texas, including a 96-yard touchdown… Caught two passes against Texas for 73 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown catch… Hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass against Kansas while returning two kickoffs for a 25-yard average… Led team with seven receptions for 62 yards against Texas Tech… Hauled in three passes for 57 yards against Miami, including a 44-yarder… Made two catches for 55 yards at Iowa State… Caught four passes for 37 yards and returned a kickoff 22 yards at Oklahoma.
So Lockett is a good player. What does it all mean? As a junior, K-State will see the maturation of one of the best wide receivers the school has had in recent history. While just 5’11″ and 175 pounds, that Lockett rhymes with rocket seems to be more than just coincidence – it was meant to be. Lockett is one of the quickest players on the field and pushes cornerbacks to keep up with him on every play (woe be to the DB that attempts to play man-coverage and bites too soon, because Lockett will be gone). He’s also a phenomenal kick returner and was named a preseason All-American at the position. Here’s what I’m predicting for Lockett this season: 950 yards receiving, 35-yard average on kick-off returns, and five kickoffs returned for touchdowns (compared to numbers of 687, 33.8, and four in 2012).
Lockett is a completely different receiver than Harper – Harper was more physical while Lockett relies more on speed. However, he should replace Harper as the number one option this year and, although Tramaine Thompson returns, there is less depth behind those two. I look for Curry Sexton to step up into the third receiver slot this year, but that trio isn’t as talented as last year’s. Lockett will be targeted more in 2013 than Harper was in 2012, and will likely have a better arm throwing to him as well (the more I read, the more I’m being converted to the notion Daniel Sams is a pretty able passer). He should end the season as a first-team All-Big 12 player with consideration as an All-American at the position, as well as an All-American on special teams with the most kicks returned for touchdowns in the nation.
To work backwards in the countdown, visit 17 days and another double-header player preview.