OSU football: Tylan Wallace has come a long way in a year since tearing ACL
STILLWATER — Mandi Moore gives herself some credit these days.
“I really have chilled out quite a bit,” Moore said with a laugh.
The mother of Oklahoma State star receiver Tylan Wallace had her moments when it wasn’t so easy to chill out.
Wallace will lead the No. 6 Cowboys into a Saturday showdown with Texas at 3 p.m. in Boone Pickens Stadium that has major Big 12 implications. And Wallace leads the conference in receiving with 401 yards in four games.
How far he has come in a year.
It was one year ago Friday when Wallace tore the ACL in his right knee. The OSU football world shifted that night, and it seemed it might never be the same.
It seemed Wallace might never be the same.
Of course, Wallace was surrounded with knowledge on how to fight through ACL rehabilitation. His twin brother, Tracin, has had three torn ACLs since they were sophomores in high school.
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“He was a huge help,” Tylan said of his brother, who is now a student assistant for the Cowboys. “I would go in there and ask him anything, like I needed to know why my knee was feeling a certain way or what I need to mainly focus on during rehab. I could ask him anything and he had an answer for it. He was a huge help that pushed me to get through rehab.”
The two worked out together when they were sent home in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, because both knew how vital the rehabilitation process was going to be.
“I didn’t want to half-ass do rehab and be somewhat back to where I was,” Wallace said. “I wanted to be back and possibly even better than what I was, so I made sure I attacked the rehab process as hard as I could.”
The pandemic shutdown was one of many challenging moments for Moore, who wanted to do everything she could to help her son through his rehab while he was home in Fort Worth, Texas.
She searched everywhere for proper equipment that the boys could use in their workouts, but everything had been gobbled up immediately by others trying to stay in shape at home.
So the Wallace brothers resorted to working out with 40-pound boxes of cat litter.
Knowing how important the rehab process was going to be, she was nervous for her son.
“None of us are experts in the rehab field,” she said. “I was definitely worried about it.
“OSU was doing everything they could, but still, working out at home is nothing like working out at the facilities they have available to them in Stillwater.”
A torn ACL was once a career-threatening injury. We’ve all heard the war stories about the great player who “blew out his knee.”
Some players didn’t come back to play again, and those who did rarely reached the level of their previous selves.
Then the medical side of the ACL tear began to improve with the ability to reconstruct the knee arthroscopically in the mid-1980s. Players could be back on the field within a year, with minimal dropoff in their talent level.
And as treatments further improved, return time gradually decreased. Now, a player can be back on the field as soon as six months after the injury.
Wallace had been expected to participate on some level in spring practice last March and April, had the pandemic not wiped it out.
Instead, Wallace didn’t get into real football action until August, wearing a brace on his knee. A couple weeks later, the brace came off.
Then came the first game, against Tulsa.
That’s when Moore’s nerves peaked. She sat uncomfortably in the stands of Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I was really nervous,” Moore said. “It took a while for him to even have a normal play in that game. The whole first half, I was just waiting. Getting through that first play, that first normal wide receiver move on his part, was big. It helped me relax a lot, because I was not enjoying that game at the beginning.
“I just needed him to do something, and it seemed like it took forever.”
Wallace finally caught a pass in the third quarter against Tulsa. He finished with four catches for 99 yards. He’s had plenty more big plays and big days since, and before anyone realized it, Superman had returned to his previous form. Maybe even surpassed it.
And Moore has been able to chill out. She’ll never not be nervous. But she’s been pleasantly surprised with the results, thanks to Wallace’s fervent commitment to becoming great again.
“Most of it comes in the rehab process,” Wallace said. “It’s all really a mindset.
“You really gotta attack rehab, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I went in and did what I was supposed to do, worked as much as I could on it and tried to get back right.”