Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace’s 86 receptions for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns helped him become one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, but catching passes isn’t the only thing he’s been busy with while living in Stillwater.
While Wallace was establishing a strong resume for the Biletnikoff Award with stellar performances in front of thousands of fans every Saturday, he spent his weekdays performing well in the classroom and earned 2018 Academic All-Big 12 honors.
The key to winning both on the football field and in the classroom is time management, Wallace said. A typical day for Wallace, a junior sports management major, starts with his class schedule beginning at 8 a.m. ahead of football practice.
After practice, Wallace can be found in the Athletics Center, where he stays until all of his academic work is completed. Finishing his work early keeps him on schedule during game week.
“I make sure I finish my work before we leave for game day,” Wallace said. “So if it’s an away game on Thursday, I’ll make sure I finish it all by Wednesday so I don’t have to worry about it.”
Wallace’s classroom success isn’t an anomaly for the OSU program. The Cowboys led the conference with a program-record 26 Academic All-Big 12 players last year. OSU’s perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) score helped it become one of only five FBS programs to receive the AFCA’s Academic Achievement Award.
The Cowboys’ 13 consecutive bowl game appearances along with the 121-59 record under coach Mike Gundy show the type of winning culture Gundy has created entering his 15th year. But the 318 graduates during the Gundy era and the 92 Academic All-Big 12 honors in the past four seasons are a testament to the academic culture Gundy has fostered.
Oklahoma State has the second-most Academic All-Big 12 honors over the past four seasons behind Kansas State’s 106.
“One of the things that I’ve gotten better at as a head coach is just the well-rounded athlete and person,” Gundy said. “When you start, everything is athletically driven in football and win at all cost. Then as you age through your life you find out other things are important.”
Gundy has spent the past eight years stressing the concept of developing young men and he said the results are showing through his team’s academic record. Wallace learned at an early age not to put sports above his classwork.
“Academics come first before anything,” said Wallace, who’s from Fort Worth, Texas. “You’ve got to be able to have good grades to play on the field. It’s been like that since middle school, since high school. So I feel like that’s never really changed for me.”
The Cowboys had a record-setting year academically but struggled at times on the field. OSU posted a 7-6 record after earning 10 wins in four of the previous five seasons. The Cowboys will be looking to maintain their academic achievements while bringing their on-the-field success back to the usual standard. Wallace, a proven leader on the field and in the classroom, will be a major part of that.
“We want to compete and win every game, but we don’t want to send young men out of our program with a degree that can’t take care of themselves and be successful,” Gundy said. “So we stretch those areas and we work hard, and our culture is pretty good at this point.”