ENID, Okla. —
In the wake of Oklahoma State’s 49-17 thrashing of Baylor Nov. 23, most of the talk was, fittingly, about the play of quarterback Clint Chelf and the Cowboys’ stingy defense.
Nearly lost in the game’s aftermath was the fact fullback Kye Staley scored twice for the Pokes, on runs of two and one yards. Staley finished the night with seven carries for 25 yards.
The fact Staley was playing in that game at all — and will play the last home game of his OSU football career Saturday morning against Oklahoma — is nothing short of a miracle.
Coming out of Guthrie High School in 2008, Staley was a highly touted recruit, a quarterback who ran and passed for more than 2,000 total yards during his senior season.
He redshirted in 2008 and was carrying the ball in preseason practice in August of 2009 when a teammate rolled into his knee and shattered his world.
Staley’s knee was nearly ruined. He suffered a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus, an injury so severe it prompted veteran athletic trainers to say they had never seen one any worse. There were initial fears Staley might never walk again, or if he did walk, he would never again do so without a limp.
Staley’s college football career appeared to be over even before it began.
But Staley had a different idea. After surgery he worked to rehabilitate his knee. Coaches tried to discourage him, but he kept right on working. He missed the 2009 season and stepped away from football for a time in 2010, but remained part of the Cowboy program, volunteering to help however he could.
But he kept working out, slowly gaining strength and flexibility in his knee, and rejoined the Cowboys in 2011, this time as a fullback.
Fittingly, the first touchdown of his comeback came against Baylor. He became a reliable blocker and occasional pass-catcher.
And against Baylor he ran for a pair of touchdowns — as many as the high-powered Bears’ offense as a whole could manage against the Cowboy defense — in the Pokes’ biggest win in a couple of seasons.
Staley still is playing for the Cowboys thanks to his own grit and determination, plus an extra year of eligibility afforded him more than a year ago by the NCAA.
Staley has not been the star the Cowboys had hoped he would become, but has been a steady performer on both offense and special teams. On offense he has largely been used as a blocker, protecting his quarterback and leading his fellow running backs. During his career, he has carried the ball only eight times, seven of which came against Baylor.
But he has worked hard on the field and in the classroom, has represented the university well and has done everything he could to help his team win.
When he runs onto the Boone Pickens Stadium field Saturday morning prior to kickoff, he deserves an especially loud ovation from the assembled Cowboy faithful.
Kye Staley’s story is one of persistence and determination, two qualities to be lauded.
Don’t be surprised if he plays a role in this week’s Bedlam game that could earn the Cowboys their second Big 12 championship in the last three years.
And if the Cowboys do win and get to hoist the conference trophy, here’s hoping Staley gets first crack at it.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.