STILLWATER — Brady Bond arrived at Oklahoma State football camp as a high school sophomore in the summer of 2002, more focused on the experience than ambitious expectations.
"I didn’t dream of playing Division I football,” Bond said. And for good reason, considering Bond didn’t even play the perceived equivalent of Division I high school football, instead toiling in the 8-man game down the road at Garber. Still, a dream was hatched that summer in Stillwater. "Now I’m living it every day,” Bond said. "You just never know where it’s going to take you.” As the Cowboys charge into one of the most anticipated seasons in program history, Bond prepares for his fourth season as a starter on the offensive line, a key cog for one of the nation’s most potent attacks. Bond’s story is unique, with few 8-man players getting as much as a look on the recruiting trail. Nationally, only 16 states field 8-man teams. The schools are smaller, many found in rural areas. The players are often smaller, too, without premium weight rooms to help them maximize their development. "There are some big guys in 8-man, there’s just not as many,” Bond said. "It’s probably not the best thing for the coaches to go recruit 8-man schools, because there’s just not as many players for them to look at.” Like many in the business, Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Wickline has a limited knowledge of the 8-man brand. "Never seen a game,” said Wickline. At OSU, only Stacy Satterwhite, a late-80s recruit from Welch, has left a mark on the program as an 8-man product. Success stories are out there. Dean Steinkuhler won the Outland Trophy at Nebraska and was the second overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft.