By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – With classes beginning Monday on the Stillwater campus, Oklahoma State football players got the day off to focus on the first aspect of their college titles – student-athletes.
“I’m actually looking forward to it. It’s my last semester here, so I’m actually ready to get it started,” senior running back Jeremy Smith said.
While the upperclassmen know what to expect this first week of balancing practice and classes – with many of them happy to be winding down the final semesters before graduating – for the freshmen, this will likely be a daunting task.
“It’s just a little different,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “It’s a different kind of tired, a different kind of strain. As opposed to us just getting them up and working them, it’s emotional strain. ...
“It takes a couple of days. We always talk to them about that. The first couple of days we’re practicing when school starts, it’s a grind. I’ve seen it for 25 years. It happens every year.”
For several OSU seniors, however, the start of class is welcomed. For linebacker Caleb Lavey and offensive lineman Parker Graham, the start of school means the beginning of masters classes – which translates to few hours over the semester.
“I don’t have that many classes to take any more – I think it’s like nine hours, which is great because I had been taking 15 the past three years,” Lavey said. “The thing is, most of mine are online, so I get to sleep in then go to practice around noon. I’m pretty excited about my schedule.”
Though much of the classwork will be online, there will also be plenty of offline work to be done for the masters program.
“It’s less burden, but there’s more classwork. There’s a lot more papers you’ve got to write, more interviews you have to do,” Graham said. “I didn’t really realize that. I have a class that I’m required to take every semester and I have to do extracurriculars I wasn’t prepared for.”
As for advice for the first-year college athletes, Graham said the simplest task can make all the difference.
“The easiest part and the hardest part is going to class. You wake up and do lifting in the morning, practice in the evening, you have to find time to do homework and figure everything out,” Graham said. “But going to class is the biggest key to being successful. If you don’t go and don’t make good grades in your first entry classes, it’s really hard to get that GPA up.”
And for any players that need proof, they just need to talk to Graham, himself. The Webb City, Mo., native had the firsthand experience of struggling with classwork the first year on campus.
“I remember having Calculus I my first week and it was brutal,” Graham said. “I had an Asian teacher, who was very hard to understand, and not knowing what’s going on in college, not knowing what’s going on in the class. I’ll never forget that – learning concepts that I could never even fathom knowing.”