STILLWATER — Todd Monken doesn't have any dramatic or entertaining battleground story about the recruitment of Austin Hays.
“I was trying to get him to walk on for God's sake,” Monken said.
The dramatic story, it turns out, is happening now.
Last February, the Cowboys signed six receivers in a recruiting class supposedly rich on pass catchers. Hays was an afterthought, a two-star rated receiver out of San Antonio's Reagan High School.
His scholarship offers: Stephen F. Austin. Abilene Christian. Midwestern State.
Still, Monken liked him. And eventually a scholarship opened with the Cowboys, which went to Hays, stealing him away last-minute from a free education at Stephen F. Austin.
What a get, for Hays and the Cowboys, with the unsung freshman hurdling all the others in the class to be the one making the biggest impact at wide receiver.
He leads all freshmen receivers with 18 catches for 266 yards (14.8 yards per reception) and has two touchdowns, despite missing three games to injury and illness.
While many would have projected C.J. Curry, Brandon Sheperd or Blake Webb for the lead freshman role with the Cowboys, it's been Hays who has seized playing time on the outside.
If Hays didn't come highly regarded, at least by the recruiting analysts, he came highly recommended by his high school coach, David Wetzel at Reagan. Wetzel had a connection with OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton, whom he contacted to make his plea.
“(Wetzel) said, ‘I'm just telling you, I've got a good player,'” Monken said. “And when a coach calls, all we try to do is do our due diligence. If someone calls and recommends a guy that highly, who says, ‘I've had guys, you want to look at him,' you take a look.”
Monken offered to take such a look on a swing through southern Texas. And he liked what he saw.
“I thought he had good hand-eye coordination and quick feet,” Monken said.
Monken, as is human nature, also wondered why nobody else had a spot for Hays. When coaches or scouts are solo on a kid, doubt can creep in.
“You do that in everything in life,” Monken said. “A job. A girlfriend. ‘Why is she available? There's got to be something wrong. Am I missing something?'
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