STILLWATER — Herschel Sims was recently regarded as a prized recruit, a young man who overcame a childhood of abuse, potentially a budding star for Oklahoma State football.
Now, his whole life is in question. He was dismissed from the program last week for violating team rules. Then he was charged with two felony counts of second-degree forgery on Tuesday after teammate Jeremiah Tshimanga filed an incident report with OSU police last month that said Sims stole his ID card, then accessed his bank account and took $700 without his permission.
Sims arrived in Stillwater last fall as one of the most well-known and ballyhooed young players to join the OSU program. He was a five-star recruit. His life as a football star at Abilene (Texas) High School was documented on an MTV show. And he eventually opened up to a TV station in Abilene about his dark childhood, sharing a story of abuse that began at 6 or 7 years old that put his mother and stepfather in prison.
Sims’ freshman season at OSU featured highs and lows. He expressed his displeasure with not playing in the Cowboys’ season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Twitter and was disciplined by coach Mike Gundy with a week of practice on a StairMaster. Gundy also said Sims initially did not display the proper work ethic, but that it improved as the season went along. As the Cowboys’ No. 3 running back in 2011, Sims usually only saw the field when the game was well in hand.
But in his limited opportunities, he showed flashes of potential to become a special player. He busted an 81-yard touchdown run against Baylor. He had 13 carries for 111 yards against Texas Tech, including a 56-yard run. He started against Kansas State because of an injury to Jeremy Smith. He sported a gaudy 7.8 yards-per-carry average.
With both members of the stout 1-2 backfield combination of Joseph Randle and Smith set to return for their junior seasons in 2012, Sims was still slotted as the team’s third back. But he started to show visible progress toward the end of spring practice, particularly with being able to bounce runs to the outside. And OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton raved about the young back’s development in April.
“I’m at a point a little bit more now that it’s not, ‘Oh dang, Joe got hurt, Jeremy’s tired, who do I put in?’” Singleton said then. “I feel a lot more comfortable that Herschel is an option for this team that can help us, that can get in a game and do some things.“
Obviously, he’s kind of grown more because of where he came from. He wasn’t a guy that I felt comfortable about, so the fact that I’ve had some confidence built for him (is a good sign).”
Then, just more than a week ago, rumors started to swirl about Sims’ status as a member of the Cowboys. Tshimanga’s brother, Patrick, asked local media members on Twitter why Sims was still on the team because of what was in the police report Jeremiah filed — that Sims allegedly stole money from a teammate he was supposed to trust and line up with in the fall.
The dismissal from the team came Friday. The felony charges four days after that.
Sims has been sent a letter to appear in court on July 11 for arraignment. Being convicted of second-degree forgery could result in up to seven years in prison, according to state law. Sims has been charged with two counts.
Of course, Sims is innocent until proven guilty. But we know his career at OSU — and potentially in football — is over.
Now he waits for court.