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Tyler Lockett is the latest chapter in The Book of Lockett at Kansas State

Tyler Lockett is the latest Lockett to star at Kansas State and Tulsa Washington, following his dad Kevin Lockett and his uncle Aaron Lockett.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: October 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm •  Published: October 2, 2013


photo - John Lockett poses for a photo with sports memorabilia from his sons and grandson at his home in Tulsa, Okla. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. The athletic success of his sons, Kevin Lockett and Aaron Lockett, at Kansas State is being continued by Tyler Lockett, Kevin's son.  Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman  NATE BILLINGS - NATE BILLINGS
John Lockett poses for a photo with sports memorabilia from his sons and grandson at his home in Tulsa, Okla. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. The athletic success of his sons, Kevin Lockett and Aaron Lockett, at Kansas State is being continued by Tyler Lockett, Kevin's son. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman NATE BILLINGS - NATE BILLINGS

Things went so well for Kevin that Aaron decided to follow in his brother's purple footsteps.

While he had a completely different style — shorter but faster than Kevin, Aaron was more of a multithreat player — he had similarly outstanding results. In K-State history, he ranks fourth in receiving (2,400 yards) and second in punt return yards (845).

Along the way, the Locketts were part of the Manhattan Miracle. K-State became a doormat no more, going to a bowl game every season that the Lockett brothers were Wildcats.

And John and Beatrice saw all but two of the games that Kevin and Aaron played for K-State. There were trips to Boulder, Colo., and San Diego and Lubbock, Texas, and Phoenix and Manhattan, Kan.

Lots and lots of trips to Manhattan.

The Locketts would take Highway 75 north, maybe make a stop at the Casey's Convenience Store in Yates Center or Burlington, then head west when they got to Topeka. It was exactly 4½ hours door to door.

“We always told them we were there for them,” John said. “We didn't want to tell them that and not be there.”

Kevin said, “Any kid who plays college football wants to have support, so to know that my parents were always going to physically be at every game meant a lot.”

Now, another generation is at K-State, but that Lockett family support continues.

***

About the time Tyler got on The Wall at Papa John and Mama B's house for the first time, recruiters started taking notice. He was focused like his dad, speedy like his uncle and tenacious like his mom.

(John says Nicole Edwards, Tyler's mom, was one of the greatest athletes he ever coached. A sprinter, she had a refuse-to-lose attitude that made her almost unbeatable.)

Many colleges were interested in Tyler, but because of his last name, most assumed he was headed to K-State.

“I knew he liked Kansas State,” Papa John said, “but I thought in the end, because his daddy and uncle went there, he'd pick somewhere else.”

He shook his head.

“He bled purple.”

Both Tyler's dad and granddad worried about the expectations that would come with playing receiver and wearing a K-State jersey with the name LOCKETT on the back. And when Snyder called them and told them he was thinking about not redshirting Tyler, the worry grew.

In a sign that Snyder respects the Locketts as much as they respect him, the coach asked Kevin and Papa John to come to Manhattan and watch a preseason scrimmage to see what they thought about Tyler playing as a true freshman.

They watched amazed as he made one play after another and looked like the best receiver on the field at times, then they had to laugh when an assistant coach told them that it wasn't Tyler's best day.

They knew he was ready.

As a freshman, Tyler amassed nearly a thousand all-purpose yards despite missing the last few games of the season. He suffered a lacerated kidney in K-State's 52-45 loss at OSU, a thriller of a game.

He was part of the reason it was thrilling, racking up 315 all-purpose yards.

He had another big game against the Cowboys last season, including a Quinn-Sharp-befuddling 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Tyler (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) recently moved into the top 10 of K-State's career all-purpose yards list. In the process, he passed his dad.

Another thousand yards or so — a mark that's totally reachable if the junior stays healthy — and he'll take over the top spot and pass his uncle Aaron along the way.

The Lockett legacy is alive and well.

“I think it's very special,” Tyler said. “Being able to be a part of the Lockett family ... it means a lot. I come from a great family on and off the field, a family who cares for other people, who is not selfish. That's something I cherish.

“I thank God that I was actually brought up in the family that I was brought up in.”

Snyder is a big fan, too.

“Wonderful, wonderful people,” he said. “Each of them are quality young men of tremendous character. Work habits are excellent. They have all the intrinsic values that you deem important in having success on or off the field.”

No word on whether Snyder, who sent a congratulatory note earlier this season to North Dakota State's quarterback, sends Christmas cards to the family that has kept his football program stocked with receivers.

Here's betting he does.

Thing is, the Locketts believe they should be the ones saying thanks.

Kevin went on to a seven-year career in the NFL and now works in Kansas City, where he has a charitable foundation and is beloved as a former Wildcat and Chief.

Aaron spent two seasons on NFL practice squads before playing three seasons in the Canadian Football League. Now he works in Houston, using a connection made through Wildcat football to get his first job.

Who knows where K-State football could take Tyler?

“We are so proud of them,” Mama B said. “This is a journey we would not trade for anything.”

She and Papa John are still going to the K-State games. They have seen every one that Tyler has played, and they plan to see another one Saturday.

Even though the season has gotten off to a disappointing start, Tyler has been a dazzling bright spot. He had 13 catches for 237 yards in a loss to Texas two weeks ago, staking his claim as the best receiver in the Big 12. Have a few more games like that, and he could make a run at the Biletnikoff Award.

That might earn him another spot on The Wall.

No one would be happier about that the Locketts who he would replace.

“That's the way it's supposed to go,” Kevin said. “We're supposed to share whatever knowledge we have with him so that he has the ability to be more successful than we were.”

And Tyler might not be the last one. Kevin has three more boys, a 9-year-old and 5-year-old twins.

The 9-year-old has already asked about The Wall.

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.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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