Somewhat lost in the big picture of a big Oklahoma State victory was the contribution of Tylan Wallace.
Against a Texas team that entered with a six-game win streak and the No. 6 national ranking, Wallace had 10 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns.
During a prime-time, nationally televised, must-win homecoming spectacle, and with Barry Sanders among the spectators, Wallace played the game of his life.
Specific to Wallace, the 38-35 Cowboy win should be remembered for playmaking that positioned him within the lineage of OSU’s elite wide receivers.
In program history, only seven receivers had a 200-yard performance. Curtis Mayfield did it once. Rashaun Woods did it three times. At Kansas in 2006 (when Kansas was infinitely more competitive), Adarius Bowman blew past the 200 mark and hit a 300-yard home run.
Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon each had two 200-yard games, and James Washington had three.
On a huge stage last week, Wallace had his first.
“I’m really aware of all of those guys,” said Wallace, a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas. “I want to be up there with those guys and be one of the great receivers to come through Oklahoma State. I work toward that.
“If you’re a receiver, why wouldn’t you want to play at OSU? It’s a receiver’s dream.”
After rising between two Longhorn defenders, Wallace collected a Taylor Cornelius pass and bounced into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown.
ABC play-by-play voice Chris Fowler responded with a strong designation for Wallace: “The king of contested catches!”
Over the past 35 years of Oklahoma State football, there is a clearly defined list of superstar receivers: Hart Lee Dykes, Woods, Bryant, Blackmon and Washington.
Even at this early stage of his career, Wallace belongs on that list.
Statistics don’t put him there. My eyes put him there.
I see the hands, the athletic ability, the body control, the speed to separate from defenders and the vertical spring to outjump them. I see a guy who wants to be targeted on every critical down.
Wallace has it all, and that’s why he belongs on a list that includes Blackmon and Washington. Wallace has 17 catches of at least 20 yards. No other Power Five receiver has that many.
“He’s on his way. How can you deny that?” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said of Wallace. “The guy makes clutch plays. He’s able to get the long ball. He’s very good on intermediate (routes). He’s good after the catch.
“He’s physical. Likes to mix it up. You’ve seen that on several crack blocks this year. Bone-jarring hits. So, yes, he’s just a straight competitor.”
As Oklahoma State prepares for a Saturday Big 12 challenge at Baylor, Wallace is No. 2 in the conference (behind Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley) and No. 4 nationally in receiving yards at 117.5 per game.
There’s a reason why Cowboy receivers coach Kasey Dunn is Mike Gundy’s longest-tenured assistant at eight seasons. Dunn gets results. During his first season in 2011, Blackmon totaled 122 catches. In 2012, Stewart had 101. In 2014-17, Washington had 226.
Just as Washington left for the NFL, Wallace emerged as a tremendous target.
Wallace’s ascension from anonymity to stardom is comparable to Blackmon’s.
As a redshirt freshman in 2009, Blackmon totaled 20 receptions. In 2010, he had 111.
As a freshman last season, Wallace had seven catches. He now has 50 and is on pace for 86, which would be the sixth-best single-season total in program history.
“(Wallace) didn’t get a lot of reps last year — when he had pressure on him to make a play,” Gundy said. “Even though he’s a sophomore, if you go on reps, he’s essentially still a freshman.”
OSU receivers who had seasons of at least 86 catches: Blackmon, Woods, Josh Stewart and Bryant.
OSU receivers who got 200 yards against Texas: Wallace.
While Blackmon and Washington were not blue-chip recruits, Wallace was a four-star prospect at Fort Worth’s South Hills High School. Before committing to OSU, he considered offers from Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Oregon, Kansas State and Arizona State. It is believed the University of Tulsa was the first with an actual scholarship offer.
If it’s possible to simultaneously be a rising star and an established star, it’s Wallace. He can get better, and that’s why it’s so important for Cornelius to continue to be as effective in the passing game as he was against Texas.
It’s also critically important for Gundy to have an effective passer for the 2019 season. Wallace is too talented to be wasted. He has the skill set to develop into an All-American, Biletnikoff Award, NFL-caliber type of wide receiver, but he’s already really good.
By the end of his career, Wallace will be remembered as having been Blackmon-Washington good.
It’s a receiver’s dream.