By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It’s a ritual being played out on in venues ranging from dusty, small-town football fields flanked by creaky wooden bleachers to gleaming metal and glass coliseums seating hundreds of thousands of fans.
It is senior day, or night, depending on the position of the sun at game time.
It is a ceremony honoring all the seniors on the home team, from student managers to star quarterbacks.
Mommas, daddies, sisters, brothers, step-parents, grandpas and grandmas, cousins, wives, girlfriends and buddies troop onto the field, where they await the introduction of their graduating players.
The seniors often are presented with game balls and flowers for their moms.
One by one, the kids trot onto the field at the sound of their names booming out over the field’s public address system. For the stars, this is old hat, but for some, it is the moment, and the thrill, of a lifetime.
The vast majority of high school football players will never play anything other than intramural flag football in college.
And even of those who make it onto a college football roster, only a tiny minority will even get a shot at the pros.
It was senior day Saturday afternoon in Stillwater prior to Oklahoma State’s clash with Texas Tech.
One by one, the players ran out of the tunnel to share a moment with head coach Mike Gundy — who handed each a football — then ran through a gauntlet of cheerleaders, band and pom squad members, to be embraced by their waiting family members.
Many of the names were familiar to Cowboy fans — defensive lineman Cooper Bassett, cornerback Brodrick Brown, linebacker Alex Elkins, and all-everything kicker/punter Quinn Sharp among them.
But then there were Jarid King and Tyler Fields.
King is a 6-foot, 250-pound defensive tackle from Dallas, while Fields is a 5-11, 221-pound linebacker from Detroit.
As Fields took the field, he was introduced with the words “Has earned playing time as a special teamer and is a scout team standout.” As King took the field, he was described as “Another standout on the scout team, he has also seen game action during his career.”
Fields has played in one game this season, one in 2011 and two in 2009. He didn’t play as a sophomore.
King, meanwhile, has seen action in eight games — two this year, three in 2011, two in 2010 and one in 2009.
That means between them the pair have played in 12 total games — or the number of games the aforementioned Brown and Bassett will play this season alone.
Despite this, King and Fields still have faced the same off-season running and weightlifting, early morning meetings and grueling practices in the hot sun, as the starters. Oh, and they have to keep their grades up just like the regulars do.
And they have labored primarily on the scout team, the unit charged week in and week out with emulating the upcoming opponents’ offense and defense, being cannon fodder for the starters.
You have to tip your hat to kids like King and Fields, and all players at every level of the game who have labored in the shadows, with few if any chances to even sniff the field, much less play any meaningful minutes, and have stuck it out simply for the love of the game.
Here’s to all those senior day heroes, wherever you are.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.