STILLWATER — While lying on the Oklahoma State practice field in agonizing pain more than three years ago, Kye Staley never imagined he'd eventually wind up here.
Healed and healthy after recovering from a brutal knee injury that probably should have ended his football career. Significantly contributing to an explosive Cowboy offense — as a fullback.
And ready for one last go-round with OSU in 2013.
The NCAA has granted Staley a sixth year of eligibility, giving him an additional season in Stillwater after two were taken away by the devastating blow to his knee sustained during fall camp in 2009.
“I'm overjoyed that I get to come back and pursue more education and pursue more football,” Staley said Monday.
OSU coach Mike Gundy is quick to point out that it's practically a miracle that Staley is even playing football at all after the torn ligaments and damaged nerves. There was a six- or nine-month period after the injury where the Cowboy medical staff just hoped Staley would one day be able to walk without a limp.
Now the Guthrie High product and former prized running back recruit has reinvented himself and his career, taking pride in laying physical blocks to help spring the Cowboy running backs and occasionally catching passes out of the backfield since returning in 2011.
Staley calls the day he suffered the injury one of the worst of his life. And after that, he felt like coaches didn't believe in him, that they thought playing football again was impossible.
But he wanted to try.
“Kye, come on now,” Gundy remembers telling Staley. “You want to (be able to) run with your kids and play in the front yard. I know you love football, but you can't do this. I'm not going to feel good about this.
“I figured he'd go away.”
Staley didn't. Instead, he rehabbed hard with strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass and trainer John Stemm. He did step away from playing football for the 2010 season but stayed around the program, holding up play cards for the scout team during practices and shadowing former running backs coach Robert Gillespie on the sideline during games.
But his second comeback attempt, at a new position, has been a successful one.
He got his first carry and first catch against Arizona last season. He scored his first touchdown against Baylor. And this season, his role has expanded even more, with seven catches for 128 yards and a score through eight games.