STILLWATER â€” There have been times this season when Shane Jarka wondered what he was doing with his life.
The Oklahoma State defensive tackle already has his degree in marketing and he's been dealing with a pain in his right knee since the Cowboys' season-opening win against Washington State.
â€œI think about that every day,â€ said Jarka, who is working on his MBA. â€œLike, â€˜Man, I have a degree and I'm still going through all this pain and all these workouts?' But I love the game and I love this team. No matter what, I'm going to be there for them.â€
Heading into tonight's Bedlam battle between OSU and Oklahoma, Jarka has been an example to OSU's young players of the type of toughness and resiliency required to excel in the Big 12.
â€œHe leads by example,â€ Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. â€œHe just plays every game. He doesn't get to practice very much but he shows up and loves to play the game. Shane Jarka is a guy who could have checked it in eight weeks ago and nobody would have said anything.â€
Not only has Jarka shown up to play every Saturday, he's played well. After missing two games in September, he's been a key contributor in the Pokes' interior defense allowing middle linebacker Orie Lemon to roam free and make tackles. You can't see his impact in numbers (ten tackles in eight games) but he's held his own each week.
â€œHe's done an unbelievable job especially against the run,â€ defensive coordinator Bill Young said. â€œHe's held the point, nobody has knocked him off the football. To say that with him playing in the condition he's playing in is unbelievable.â€