Two Cowboy football players who had “a little conflict” last season are now roommates. Nothing too serious, but important enough for the duo to make a very specific pact this year.
No discussing the 2010 Class 5A Division II Texas high school state championship game.
“He doesn’t really like me mentioning that too much,” said linebacker Ryan Simmons last month in an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle.
“We just made a truce to not even talk about it,” defensive end Jimmy Bean said after practice Saturday.
The two Oklahoma State football defensive standouts were opponents in that state title matchup. Bean at Denton Guyer, about 30 miles north of Dallas. Simmons at Cibolo Steele, about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio.
Both were seniors. Each was ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals and held scholarship offers from top Division-I schools across the nation.
But their memories of that game couldn’t be more split. For Simmons, an unforgettable finale to his high school football career. For Bean, the ultimate what-could-have-been moment.
Cibolo Steele won 24-21. Simmons’ eight tackles and one interception of now OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh earned him defensive MVP honors.
Bean doesn’t hold any grudges. If anything, he said that game was “something that really brought us closer together.” But that doesn’t mean reminiscing on the outcome is all that enjoyable.
And these two are far from the only Cowboys who understand that dynamic.
There are currently 68 former Texas high school football players listed on OSU’s online roster. That’s more than half of the entire team.
“A lot of the guys (at OSU) I competed against in high school,” Bean said. “When we were coming in, we lived close to each other, so the whole recruiting process you see each other at a lot of different places. So when we came up here, a lot of us knew each other pretty well.”
As young former Texas opponents bond as teammates in Stillwater, the conversation seems to always circle back to who was the big man on campus back in high school.
“Everybody is always up on the training table talking about whose high school is going to make it to the playoffs, how many playoffs they’ve been to, stuff like that,” Bean said. “Everybody likes competition.”
Count running back Desmond Roland in that group. He played for Lake Highlands in Dallas, and says he never gets tired of hearing about the glory days in a state that loves its high school football.
Especially when he can give his teammates a hard time.
“I know their team made it to the championship game a few times, but they never won it,” Roland laughed with Bean after practice Saturday. “That’s always my comeback.”
“When I was there,” Bean countered. “The past two years, we won state.”
Past success fuels future confidence. Many leaders and expected top contributors in the Cowboys’ 2014 locker room are former Texas high school football players: Bean, Simmons, Walsh, safety Larry Stephens, wide receiver Jhajaun Seals, and the list goes on.
“It’s that Texas environment,” Roland said. “It’s a good feeling.”