Driving back home the day after Guthrie's 2012 season opener, Reggie Callins was searching for the words to tell his son that his season was over.
Kai Callins, then a junior, had been injured in the fourth quarter of the Bluejays' win the night before.
When Kai was down, Reggie held out hope that it was his ankle that was injured. But when the running back stood up and had to be helped off the field, Reggie knew the injury was to his knee. He was afraid that Kai had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
The next day, after a morning visit to the McBride Clinic and an evening phone call, Reggie had the confirmation.
“It was the longest ride home to tell Kai that his season was done and that he had to have surgery,” Reggie said.
A year later, Kai is back and as good as ever, coming in at No. 29 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the state's top college football prospects for the 2014 class.
His road there started shortly after confirmation that it was his ACL that was torn.
Reggie had experienced rehab from the injury before, tearing his ACL as a running back at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.
He also knew what it took to whip people into and back into shape.
As an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, Reggie has spent the last decade training new applicants and new cadets.
So there was never any doubt that he was going to work with Kai to get him back ready to play in time for this season.
“I'd done some speed and agility stuff with him before but we'd never lifted together,” Kai said. “Every since I got hurt, though, every day I'm working out with him.”
Reggie took time away from work to get Kai back into shape.
For the first six months, the workouts centered around Kai's upper body.
“Frankly, he was not that strong,” Reggie said. “His legs have always been his strong point but with him playing basketball so much, we really didn't work much on his upper body before.”
Once Kai was cleared to return to full activity in March, the workouts kicked up in intensity.
“I realized once I got released that even though I thought I was in shape before, I wasn't,” Kai said. “They day I got released, we started doing some extreme stuff and I'm like, ‘Dang, I've got to get myself into shape.'”
By the time spring practice rolled around two months later, Kai had already exceeded where he'd been in the past.
At the point in practices where he'd usually be worn down, Kai suddenly wasn't tired.
That has Kai excited for what this season brings and for his future.
Unlike every player ahead of him on the Super 30 list, Kai is waiting for his first Division I offer.
He decided to forgo recruiting camps over the summer in favor of continuing his training and trying to ensure that he doesn't get hurt again this season.
He's continued to talk to college coaches, though most right now want him as a cornerback. That's not a concession Kai is prepared to make.
“Everybody's telling me corner — I'm a cornerback, I'm built for a cornerback,” Kai said. “My thought is, I'm a running back. The running back has changed. You don't see many shifty running backs nowadays.
“I've got all the faith in the world and all the confidence in the world that I can play running back at the next level. It's going to take some time to get used to that speed, but once I do that I have no doubt that I can play running back. I'm just waiting on a school to have faith in me and believe in what I can do.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30
No. 29: Kai Callins
Position: Running back
Recruited by: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Ohio.