Artrell Woods lives with his mother and makes $2.13 an hour.
Kevin White breeds pit bulls in attempt to make ends meet.
Marcus Richardson sits in a state prison in Texas.
Jonathan Cruz tried to kill himself.
All of the stories about life after Oklahoma State football that Sports Illustrated chronicled in the fifth and final installment of its investigation of Cowboy football are sad. Dreams weren't realized. Hopes are dashed. Lives are difficult.
Stories like that are sad.
But as we read the final missive in this series, one question lingered.
What is Oklahoma State's obligation to a player once his playing career is over?
For that matter, what's the duty of any school?
Read the SI story, and you would be led to believe that OSU is responsible for what has become of these players. The problems. The difficulties. The troubles. The piece pins all of that on OSU because it didn't care about the players, not when they were on campus and certainly not when they left.
One of the prime examples of all of that was Herschel Sims. The story contends that OSU coaches were unaware that the five-star running back been abused by his stepfather when he was a kid, a horrific story of repeated beatings that ultimately landed the stepfather and Sims' mother in prison.
I don't buy it.
An MTV show followed the Texas prep star for several days during his senior season at Abilene High. The abuse was part of his story.
It was then written about by numerous media outlets in Oklahoma.
And yet we're still supposed to believe that Cowboy coaches knew nothing of a story that was known by millions of TV viewers and newspaper readers?
Sims eventually got kicked off the team at OSU for stealing $700 from a teammate. He took Jeremiah Tshimanga's ID card, forged his signature and withdrew the money from his bank account. Sims was charged with two felony counts of second-degree forgery.
You want to talk about caring for players — what about protecting everyone from guys like this? I'd say Mike Gundy was looking out for the rest of the Cowboys when he booted a guy who will steal hundreds of dollars from a teammate.
Sims is quoted in SI as saying “I wasn't playing much and I wasn't helping out the team much, so it was easy for them to let me go. It was just all about football. They didn't care about anything I was going through.”
Sims was and still is the only five-star recruit ever signed during the Gundy era. This guy was a big-time player, and the only reason he wasn't playing was because he was a freshman with Joe Randle and Jeremy Smith in front of him.
Prediction: if Sims was still on campus, he'd be the Cowboys' starting running back this season.
Instead, he's at Abilene Christian, his second school since leaving OSU, a fact left out of the SI story. He originally transferred to Lamar but spent less than a semester there. He chose to leave.
Earlier this spring, he talked to the newspaper in Abilene about being back in his hometown playing for the lower-level FCS program there.
“It hurts,” he told the Abilene Reporter-News. “I never dreamed I'd come back to Abilene to play football. I feel like I'm a top-notch Division-I player and I should be up there with the rest of the guys.
“But it's nobody's fault but my own. I had my chance, but I messed it up.”
Sure sounds like a different tune than the one Sims was singing in the SI story. Truth is, I feel a bit for the Herschel Sims quoted by the Abilene paper. The one quoted by SI? Not so much.
The Herschel Sims quoted in the paper sounds like he's matured. The one quoted by the magazine? Not so much.
At some point, guys need to grow up. That's the whole point of going to college, to learn and mature and prepare for the real world. That goes for football players just like it does for regular students.
What the former players quoted in SI seem to be saying is that OSU didn't give them enough. Yes, their stories are sad. Yes, their circumstances are unfortunate. But the truth is, when OSU granted them a football scholarship, it gave them a gift. It gave them a chance at a better life.
They didn't take it.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.