OSU football: How Tylan Wallace is making people forget he had major knee surgery just 11 months ago
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace is just a few weeks away from the one-year anniversary of his ACL surgery.
Remember that? When Wallace had major reconstructive surgery on his right knee?
If you’ve been watching him play through the first three games of the season, you might’ve forgotten.
“They can repair these things nowadays, essentially some people think, better than it was originally,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “So you get great medical care, and then it’s up to the young man to rehabilitate himself.
“Tylan is very driven. He was, at some times, we felt 4-6 weeks ahead in recovery, just based on his willingness to work hard with rehab. He’s put himself in a good situation.”
Wallace has had an array of catches this season, from short and intermediate routes in tight coverage to the deep ball he caught at Kansas on Saturday when he was 15 yards behind anybody in a Jayhawk jersey.
And perhaps his most important and most impressive catch came in the fourth quarter against West Virginia, when he went high to grab a pass, getting one foot inbounds for a 14-yard gain on third-and-9 and keeping the game-clinching touchdown drive alive.
“I feel back to normal, no issues really anywhere now,” Wallace said. “I just feel like the old me.”
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Wallace is seventh in the nation in receiving on a team that has gone heavy on the run game. He has 325 yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions.
Wallace’s ability to be physical, both as a receiver and run blocker, hasn’t diminished.
In fact, he ranks seventh nationally in the number of snaps he’s been used as a run blocker (108), according to Pro Football Focus. Only Jaylon Robinson of Central Florida is ahead of Wallace in both receiving yards (366) and run-blocking snaps (109).
Part of Wallace’s early success must be credited to a quickly developed connection with true freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth, who has been filling in for injured starter Spencer Sanders.
“His maturity over these past couple weeks has really got my attention,” Wallace said of Illingworth. “He has the mentality of an older guy. You don’t see that a lot in freshmen.”
Last year, when Sanders and Wallace were both healthy, Wallace was once again on his way toward contending for the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s best receiver. He was a finalist for the trophy in 2018.
When Sanders returns after the off week to face Baylor on Oct. 17, the Cowboy offense should see a rise in passing numbers, based on the increased comfort of Sanders in the offense.
Most importantly, Wallace has left Cowboy coaches with no hesitation to put him on the field at any time.
“He’s somewhat past the mental part of it,” Gundy said. “Anytime you get injured, it works on you mentally a little bit. I think he’s gotten past that now and he’s back to just enjoying the game.”