By Nick Snow
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – Take a poll around the Oklahoma State football team’s locker room and chances are, you’re probably going to find each player has a specific game that means more to them.
For some, it’s the game against Texas. Others, it’s Bedlam. Even last week James Castleman – a native of Amarillo, Texas – had Texas Tech circled on his calendar.
But for Tyler Patmon, this week’s game against Kansas is a little different.
“He hasn’t said much about it, but we know it’s a big game for him,” Oklahoma State senior safety Lyndell Johnson. “You always want to have a big game against your former teammates.”
Patmon began his career as a three-year starter at Kansas before transferring to Oklahoma State following his graduation.
And while the soft-spoken senior might not say much, there’s little doubt that those emotions will be running wild when the Cowboys take on the Jayhawks at 3 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I’m real excited for him,” Oklahoma State senior linebacker Lewis said. “I know he’s going to step up and have the best week of practice this week. In turn, that’s going to translate to the game.”
Preparation hasn’t been a problem for Patmon since he stepped on Stillwater’s campus. Within a couple of months, he knew Oklahoma State’s playbook just as well – if not better – than the one he had studied for three years at Kansas.
“He came in this summer and before camp he knew the system,” Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “Just getting an experienced guy like that it was like a Christmas present for us.”
Patmon may have been a bit of a surprise for the Oklahoma State coaching staff, which was trying to figure out how to replace senior Brodrick Brown when Patmon arrived, but it wasn’t like he was able to walk on campus and instantly become a starter.
He had to earn that spot and learn how to fit in with the rest of the Oklahoma State defense.
“He’s been a really big impact player,” Oklahoma State coach Gundy said. “We didn’t have Kevin Peterson (against Texas Tech) and he had to play the entire game against a team that had over 100 plays. He’s been tremendous for us on special teams and we brought him in here to add some depth to our secondary and he’s essentially the starter.”
“He brings a lot of senior leadership,” Lewis said. “He’s definitely one of those guys who leads by example. He doesn’t say too much, but every day he’s out there practicing hard and doing what he’s asked to do.”
Looking back, it doesn’t seem like an ideal situation for Patmon – going from a three-year starter battling to see the field his senior season amongst a log jam of cornerbacks.
But as the injuries continue to pile up, it’s clear why Patmon chose Oklahoma State. Because he knew eventually he’d get his time to shine.
“He took a chance on us,” Spencer said. “You look back and you start to wonder what we would have done without him. That’s a big compliment, but the biggest compliment I could give him was when I knew he was going to start (against Texas Tech). I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about changing the game plan, I didn’t think about calling a different game. That’s because I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Sure, it’s taken some time for Spencer to build that confidence, and at times, Spencer wondered if the senior transfer ever would fit in.
Now, there’s no question which sideline Patmon belongs on.
“He was kind of like the new guy when he first came here, just trying to fit in to our family,” Spencer said. “We accepted him in our family with open arms and he did his job of fitting into our culture. He came in unselfish and that’s the reason it’s worked so well to this point.”
And while Patmon will likely go through the whole gamut of emotions Saturday when he lines up against his former team, Lewis said he’s not concerned about him getting too caught up in the moment.
“It’s the same Tyler Patmon that we’ve seen week to week,” Lewis said. “He’s been in there every day watching film and he’s on the practice field playing hard, so there’s not really a difference in Tyler Patmon from last week to Tyler Patmon from this week.”
The only difference this time? Fans in Boone Pickens Stadium will actually be cheering for him instead of against him.