STILLWATER — Blake Webb sped through the secondary, in motion almost effortlessly to the naked eye, finishing off a long touchdown catch and run in last week’s Orange Blitz.
Webb’s speed, often talked about but rarely on display so far in his young career, is again in play.
But effortlessly? Yeah, right.
Getting back to this point – in the mix of a crowded receiver position and bidding to make an impact in 2014 – has required rehab and resilience and plenty of effort, after Webb spent the majority of last season sidelined with an odd and painful foot injury.
“It’s been amazing to be out here, catching passes, making plays,” said Webb, still a sophomore after receiving a medical redshirt for last season.
“I’m confident. I’m running hard. I feel like I’m back.”
And it’s a good feeling, after what Webb experienced at practice last September during the bye week between games against Lamar and West Virginia. Webb had hauled in a 16-yard touchdown catch against Lamar, and was back at practice that Monday.
Running a route, just running, something went wrong. In stride, Webb tore the ligament that holds up the arch of the foot.
“It was a weird feeling,” he said. “I made a cut and was running straight ahead and felt a snap. I caught a ball, then I looked down and saw something sticking out of my foot. I was like, ‘What is that?’ Then instantly, fluid filled it up. I was like, ‘OK, I’m done.’”
And yes, it was as painful as it sounds, if not immediately.
“It was pretty scary,” Webb said. “It wasn’t so much as soon as I did it, it hurt, but two hours after my whole foot was black and blue. I couldn’t walk.”
Now, there’s no slowing him down.
Webb has spent time with the track team as a sprinter – Tyreek Hill isn’t the only dual-sport standout on this Cowboys team – and believes he’s faster than ever.
“I feel like running track really helped,” he said, “because I think it strengthened (my foot) a lot. I was doing a lot of running.
“I’m definitely a lot faster than I was before the injury.”
And he’s not alone in that thinking. Teammates and coaches have taken notice.
“Oh, he’s really fast,” said fellow receiver Jhajuan Seales. “He can go.”
Webb thought he’d given up track after his junior year in high school. Although he’d excelled at the sport at The Woodlands in the Houston area, he wasn’t receiving the attention for his football abilities that he’d hoped from colleges.
“I wasn’t getting recruited for football, and that’s what I love to do,” he said. “So I decided I was going to focus on football.”
Webb eventually caught the Cowboys’ eye, earning a scholarship after a senior season that saw him catch 52 passes for 923 yards and 14 touchdowns. He played immediately as a freshman in 2012, playing in every game and even starting against Oklahoma.
And after his injury detour, Webb found himself being recruited again, this time back to track by OSU sprints coach Diego Flaquer.
During the indoor season, he ran the 60-meter. Now that spring football drills are over, he’ll rejoin the track team to run the 100-meter and the 4x100 relay. And then it’ll be back to the football practice field for offseason work and eventually fall camp.
“He’s the type of kid, he’s driven,” said Cowboys receivers coach Jason Ray. “He knows he can be better each and every day.”
And make it all look so effortless.
“I was out the whole season, riding the bike, running around trying to keep my conditioning up,” Webb said. “Then offseason was just trying to get to this point.
“Now it feels great.”