Dez Bryant reflects on his Oklahoma State career and the lie that eventually ended it
By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Even as he ascends toward superstardom, Dez Bryant occasionally wonders what could have been.
What could that 2009 Oklahoma State team have done with a healthy Kendall Hunter and, more particularly, an eligible Dez Bryant?
“Man, we had a chance to be really good,” Bryant said this past weekend, minutes after his Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime.
Even with Bryant, the then 5th-ranked OSU Cowboys were stunned at home by Houston in an early season nonconference game.
But Big 12 play was yet to begin and many believed, with a full cast of characters, OSU’s offensive talent was enough to challenge (and potentially win) the school’s first conference title.
But we’ll never know. The Cowboys never got the chance.
Three games into that 2009 season, days after exploding for nine catches, 161 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-24 throttling of Rice, Bryant was ruled ineligible for the rest of his junior year.
The NCAA had learned of a meeting between him and Deion Sanders, which didn’t turn out to be a violation. But during investigation, Bryant lied about the visit, violating an NCAA Bylaw that addresses “ethical conduct”.
“I just felt the manner in which I was interrogated by the NCAA was an experience I never had before,” Bryant said at the time. ”The manner they asked the questions led me to believe that I did something wrong when in fact I had not. My mistake was not seeking advice prior to being interrogated and then turning around and not telling the truth.”
Years later, he chooses to take the high road.
He’s not going to call out the NCAA for a decision many believed too harsh. Or second-guess a lie that demolished his college career right before it hit its pinnacle.
“Of course I think about it every now and then,” Bryant admitted . “It was real tough at the time. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I put it behind me.”
Because brief thoughts about what could have been are now drowned out by what lies ahead for the budding star.
In his third NFL season, Bryant has finally become the go-to receiver his talent always suggested he could be.
During the past six games (an impressive 5-1 stretch for the Cowboys), Bryant has caught 37 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns.
He’s got Pro Bowl numbers (1,087 yards and 10 TDs this year) for a potentially playoff bound team.
And much of that, according to Bryant, he owes to those three years in Stillwater, for which he still looks back on fondly.
“Wouldn’t change it. Wouldn’t change a thing,” Bryant said of his OSU career. “I remember Coach Gundy coming to my high school and I just believed everything that he told me. I’m not going to get all the way into it, but he told me, ‘You do everything you’re supposed to do and you’ll get where you want to be.’ I believed everything that he said and I got where I wanted to be.”
And so has OSU, thanks in part to Bryant and the talented 2007 recruiting class that came with him (which included Josh Cooper, Kendall Hunter and Richetti Jones). The five-year run that many of them started was capped off last season, with a Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl win.
“We put a mark. we put a mark there,” Bryant said of the 2007 class. “Coach Gundy did a great job of recruiting and we went out there and showed that we could play. When I was there we played like, ‘Hey, we won’t be denied.’ We can play with UT, Oklahoma, and whoever else that thinks they’re powerful.”
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