What felt like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill touchdown for Tyler Lockett on Sept. 24, 2011, was in fact different than any other.
One hundred and forty catches and 2,150 yards later, Tyler used his first career score as a launching pad for one of the greatest receiving efforts in K-State history.
“That was a different play than what Tyler had been doing in the past,” Tyler’s uncle and former K-State wide receiver Aaron Lockett said. “When I saw that play, I knew he had the potential to do great things. That game overall, being on the road and being an 18-year-old and making those types of plays, set him up for a successful career.”
Tyler’s father Kevin, who played at K-State from 1993-96 and holds the school’s career receiving record with 3,032 yards, said Tyler is having a K-State experience similar to Kevin and Aaron.
“Tyler’s living both scenarios of myself and Aaron,” Kevin said. “One, the resurgence of the program of Coach Snyder coming back and also being at another peak a couple of years ago. They were one game away from playing in a national title, so he’s got a chance to put his own stamp on the program. It’s exciting for him to be it at our alma mater. To be able to do it under the same coaching staff as we were able to participate under and to see how much the Kansas State fan base truly appreciates some of the things that he’s doing.”
When his jersey number (16) is called, the youngest Lockett answers. Against Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan in 2012-13, he tallied exactly half of his 1,262 yards.
“Tyler has earned that respect,” senior wide receiver Curry Sexton said. “We had two Big 12 defensive backs go in the first round (of the NFL Draft) last year and several more that got drafted. To see Tyler do what he did against those teams and what he did in the bowl game against a good secondary in Michigan, Tyler has earned everything good that is said about him. He’s special.”
Prior to his playing career, the Lockett name wasn’t new to Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs. His older brother Quentin Jammer also played at Texas (1997-2001) while Tyler’s uncle Aaron was at K-State.
After seeing Tyler post 13 catches for 237 yards last season against the Longhorns, Diggs won’t forget the name any time soon.
“He can run,” Diggs said after labeling him the best receiver in the Big 12. “He can take the top off the defense whenever they need him to. He can work in the slot, he can work outside and he can do a little bit of everything. That’s what makes him such a hard cover. I’m sure he’s grown this offseason and that’s going to make him even better. He brings so many difficult matchups and he’s a great special teams guy too. You can respect all the hard work he does and I have a lot of respect for a guy like that.”
Former TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, who was the first-round selection of the San Diego Chargers in May’s NFL Draft, gave up only one touchdown in his final college season and he was humbled by the youngest Lockett’s precise route running.
“It didn’t take me that route to know that he could play,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said of seeing his top cover corner getting bested. “We had stuff in to make sure that we tried to cover him, but those kind of things didn’t happen. He’s a good player.”
TCU safety Sam Carter said it’s matchups that come against receivers like Lockett that makes him thrive on Saturdays.
“I don’t mind facing a guy like that every week, because competition brings out the best in you,” Carter said. “He’s a great player. If you don’t like playing against the best, why do you play the game? He’s one of the best receivers in the nation, not just in our conference, in the nation.”
Watching from afar, Kevin said he is thrilled to see how Tyler has handled his career.
“What I’m more happy about for Tyler is he has always taken on the challenge of following in our footsteps,” Kevin said. “In every one of those situations, he has created his own set of footprints. He has done it through middle school, high school and college. He’s got a competitive side that wants to be compared to his uncle or to his father. He’s also wise enough to be able to understand that his definition for success is going to be different from what many others measure him by. He’s always been about marching to his own beat.”