STILLWATER — Corey Bennett woke up Sunday morning and flipped on ESPN.
He watched a player in an orange No. 20 jersey take a delayed handoff, bounce to the outside and charge into the left corner of the end zone.
He was watching himself on “SportsCenter.”
“It's just surreal,” Bennett said. “I don't know how you prepare for that.”
Bennett's 10-yard touchdown run was the final score in Oklahoma State's 84-0 demolition of Savannah State on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium. In an otherwise lopsided — awful, really — college football game, Bennett's personal highlight illustrated perhaps the only positive that came out of that contest.
Bennett, a redshirt freshman from Choctaw, is the Cowboys' fifth-string running back who had never played in college game until Saturday night. He was one of at least 95 Cowboys to see the field against Savannah State, and one of at least 19 walk-ons.
“That's the one good part of us being ahead is to let everybody play,” coach Mike Gundy said.
Bennett originally came to OSU because he was considering a career as a veterinarian. And since he was an All-District player at Choctaw, he decided to attend an open walk-on tryout in the fall of his freshman year.
He was one of three or four players who made the Cowboy squad.
Though his school wasn't paid for and he never got in a game last season, he was still a part of OSU's magical run to the Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl victory. He said he'll never forget the feeling when the fans stormed the field around the team after the Cowboys' convincing 44-10 Bedlam win.
“We do a lot of behind-the-scenes work and don't get the credit,” Bennett said. “But I think it's worth it, just being able to experience everything and be a part of the program.”
That's the goal for Gundy, who said he's seen his walk-on program grow considerably since OSU began its steady climb to prominence in 2009. He knows part of that is the desire to be a part of a winning program, but he also hopes it's because word spreads that being a non-scholarship player is still an enjoyable experience.
“We would like to think that we treat them the same as everybody else,” Gundy said. “When the NCAA allows us to provide a meal for them, we do it. Not all schools do that. When the NCAA allows us to do anything that we can for them, within realm, we do it, and we treat them and coach them with respect.”
On Saturday, Bennett's hard work was finally rewarded.
At the start of a drive late in the third quarter, OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton told Caleb Muncrief to get in the game. Then he told Bennett to get ready.
“My heart was beating a little bit,” Bennett said. “It was just what I worked for. My chance.”
Bennett finished with 12 carries for 91 yards, including nine runs on a 10-play drive that Bennett capped with the touchdown.
“I was so tired,” Bennett said. “I just saw the pylon and ran straight for it, dove in the end zone.
“I was in shock. I couldn't believe it happened.”
Bennett's parents, sister, niece and nephew were in the stands, and 91 text messages awaited him after the game. Then came the tweets saying he made “SportsCenter,” before he finally saw it for himself the next day.
This week, Bennett is mimicking Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey on the scout team and won't make the trip to Tucson for OSU's contest against the Wildcats Saturday night.
Who knows the next time he'll get to play for OSU — or if that chance will come again?
Saturday night will be a lasting memory for Bennett, and a feel-good story from an ugly football game.
But he's not yet satisfied.
“No, I want more,” Bennett said. “I'm going to keep working. I want more.”