Oklahoma State football: Justin Gilbert shows Barry Sanders 'what we do here nowadays' with kickoff return TD

by John Helsley Published: November 9, 2013


photo - Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (4) takes the opening kickoff for a touchdown during a college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Kansas Jayhawks (KU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (4) takes the opening kickoff for a touchdown during a college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Kansas Jayhawks (KU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Justin Gilbert knows something about Barry Sanders.

And Gilbert wanted Sanders to know something about him.

So with Oklahoma State's only Heisman Trophy winner in the house Saturday, back for a 25th anniversary celebration of the 1988 season, Gilbert introduced himself in fitting fashion, taking the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, ala Sanders, to set off the Cowboys' 42-6 rout of Kansas.

“I had that in mind,” Gilbert said. “I wanted to show him how it was done in the new school – I respect his game a lot – but I wanted to show him what we do here nowadays.”

On this day, Gilbert's timing was impeccable.

In reference to Sanders, who returned the opening kickoff of that '88 season 100 yards for a touchdown, it was a fitting matching moment by Gilbert.

“That was a great feeling, opening up the game with a kickoff return, especially with him being there,” the Cowboys senior said of Sanders.

In reference to Kansas, a 32-point underdog with no appeal, it was a fine way to create some energy, both on the sideline and in the crowd.

“It's good to get started at home, get the crowd into the game,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “He certainly did that.”

Getting started had been an emphasis, too, coming off an emotional win at Texas Tech and with the Jayhawks sandwiched in between a telling trip to Texas next week.

“Coming into the game, Coach Gundy said we had to start fast, just like the last two games,” said Cowboys running back Desmond Roland. “That's the quickest way to start. Just take it right from the gate.

“It gave us momentum and it carried on throughout the game.”

With his sixth career kickoff return for a touchdown, Gilbert is the Big 12 record holder and the active NCAA leader.


by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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