By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER — ‘Tis the season to give thanks. And members of the Oklahoma State football team are thankful for their coach — or at least his decision.
With the Cowboys on a bye week before facing Bedlam rival Oklahoma on Dec. 7, Mike Gundy elected to give his players the Thanksgiving holiday off — allowing many players the first chance in years to be home for the holiday.
“I’ve kind of forgotten what Thanksgiving is like at my family’s house,” said OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey, a Celina, Texas, native. “Looking forward to getting a good chance to rest up, heal up, and focus on OU during the break. I’m just looking forward to seeing my family.”
In recent years, only getting the Thursday off made it improbable to drive long distances — as is the case with many of the Cowboy players being Texas natives. While the Oklahoma natives, and a few from Kansas, have been able to make short drives, getting out early on Wednesday is allowing others to make the trips further south.
For senior cornerback Justin Gilbert, this will be his first time in a while he will get to spend the holiday with his family in Huntsville, Texas — a more than six-hour drive to the Texas town just north of Houston.
“I’m going as soon as we are out of practice — it won’t be even 30 minutes after we let out that I’m hitting the road,” Gilbert said. “It’s great because we don’t get to go home as much during the football season, so getting to spend this time with my family and everybody getting the chance to see their family is great.”
While most players will be spending Thursday with their family, Charlie Moore will have to wait until Friday to visit his family in Tyler, Texas. The newly engaged Cowboy will be spending this Thanksgiving with his fiancé’s family in Dallas.
And though the Cowboys won’t have a football game this week, it’s likely some players will be playing in traditional Thanksgiving Day football games — as will be the case with Moore.
“They do it big and this will be my first year playing in the annual family football game, so I’m looking forward to that,” the senior receiver said. “I’m already on the roster, so I’ll be working extra hard this week to make sure I can make some big plays. I’m sure I’ll play all around and it will be a fun time.”
With most players hungry to get to see family for the holiday, Lavey is hungry for some home cooking. The surprise of this year’s defense, Lavey admitted that he’s not a great cook and typically orders takeout for most of his meals.
“I’m just ready for a home-cooked meal because I’m not very good at cooking. I eat out way too much,” Lavey said. “I have Pop-Tarts for breakfast. I can grill out, but that’s a long process, and I can make some ramen. But anything worth cooking I don’t know much about. So I’m really looking forward to that going back home.”
Though the players are excited for the holiday, one senior is looking big picture this weekend.
“Coach Gundy talks all the time about guys not listening to all the praise and all the patting on the back and feeling good about ourselves because we still have one more to win,” said Tracy Moore, a Tulsa native. “So when they do go home they are going to get a lot of that, and they are going to have to manage that and be ready to get back here because we still have one more game.”