Oklahoma State football: Colton Chelf writes perfect final chapter to his walk-on saga

COMMENTARY — Lots of interesting storylines were woven through Oklahoma State's 41-38 overtime victory over Stanford Monday in the Fiesta Bowl. The story of Colton Chelf almost got lost in the shuffle.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 4, 2012

But the biggest play was still to come.

After Stanford missed a field-goal attempt in overtime, OSU faced a second and 10 from the 25-yard line. Chelf lined up on the right side with Blackmon, but as Blackmon beelined for the end zone, Chelf crossed toward the middle of the field.

“We actually ran that play earlier, and it was one I caught for a pretty good gain down the middle,” Chelf said. “When Weeden signaled me the play, I thought, ‘There's a possibility I could get a big play here.'

“I knew it could possibly be a touchdown.”

Chelf caught the ball around the 13-yard line. He was behind the Stanford secondary and had a step on the Cardinal's safety, who reached for Chelf and brought him down at the goal line. But the officials signaled a touchdown.

Chelf popped up and ripped off his helmet in celebration.

His teammates were on him in an instant. Everyone on the field. Everyone from the bench. Everyone sprinted to Chelf in the end zone, smacking him on the helmet, pounding him on the shoulder pads.

Somehow in the madness, younger brother and Cowboy quarterback Clint found him.

“I don't know how he did because there were so many people down there,” Chelf said. “It was really special that he got in there.”

Roll all of it together, and it was the storybook ending.

And then, it wasn't.

An official review revealed that Chelf's knee was down just before the football crossed the goal line. No touchdown. Ball at the half-yard line.

You know the rest. Weeden kneel down. Sharp field goal. Cowboy win.

“I mean, I wish I would've got in the end zone for sure,” Chelf said, “but we won so it doesn't matter.”

The phone calls and text messages have poured in since then. Chelf has heard from so many friends who just wanted to let him know how well he played and how proud they are of him. He marvels at all of it.

He finished the game with five catches for 97 yards.

He'd only had 16 for 194 this season before that.

This Fiesta Bowl was a night to remember for the entire Cowboy Nation, but no one will remember it any more fondly than Chelf. Every determined and diligent walk-on deserves a night like that.

“It's been a long journey,” Chelf said, “and I wouldn't change any of it.”

Including the last chapter.

“It was the perfect ending.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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