OSU football: How Jake Springfield's unique journey paid off for Cowboys
STILLWATER — Jake Springfield had made the most important and exciting decision of his football life, but a phone call was still left to be made.
Springfield was thrilled in December of 2018 to get a call from then-Oklahoma State offensive line coach Josh Henson, offering a spot with the Cowboys as a preferred walk-on.
A lightly recruited offensive lineman out of Flower Mound, Texas, Springfield’s dream of playing Division I football had appeared like it would go unfulfilled. His only scholarship offers as signing day approached were from D-II programs, and he had committed to West Texas A&M.
But Henson’s offer breathed life back into Springfield’s D-I dream, so after some discussion with his family and coaches, he took the offer. But he still had to call West Texas A&M and tell them the news.
“I was dreading it,” Springfield said of the phone call. “But I knew in my heart this was the best place for me.”
Fortunately, there was a Cowboy on the other end of the line. Springfield had been recruited to West Texas A&M by former OSU defensive lineman Cooper Bassett.
“We felt terrible, because Jake was already committed to them, but Cooper was so excited for him,” said Flower Mound offensive line coach Robbie Waters, a Stillwater native and OSU grad himself. “Cooper told him, ‘I'm so excited for you, and if things don’t work out, come back here and we’ll take you in a heartbeat.’
“Cooper was one of the only guys to take a shot on him.”
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Bassett saw something in the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Springfield — who is up to about 310 these days — that few others saw. Thankfully for OSU, Henson picked up on it, too.
Current Cowboy offensive line coach Charlie Dickey sees it as well.
Less than two years after he decided to become a Cowboy, and less than 18 months after he arrived on campus, the walk-on offensive lineman earned a scholarship and became the starting left tackle, partly because of injuries to other linemen and partly because of his talent, intelligence and work ethic.
Springfield missed one game with an ankle injury, but otherwise has been in his spot all season, just like he will be at 11 a.m. Saturday when the No. 15 Cowboys take on TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
Not everything has been smooth for Springfield as the protector of quarterback Spencer Sanders’ blind side. But Springfield has held up well in difficult circumstances.
“His competitive nature, his willingness to give up his time, his effort, his body for our organization has been tremendous,” head coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s played OK. He’s managed. Where he was thrown into the fire, he’s played really, really good.”
Springfield is the only member of his immediate family born in Texas. His parents, Tom and Melissa, both grew up in Bethany and met in high school at Putnam City West. They had Springfield’s sister while living in the OKC metro.
Tom graduated from OSU, just like his parents did. Sydney transferred to OSU a couple years ago after starting her college softball career at LSU. In addition to Waters on the Flower Mound coaching staff, defensive coordinator Bryan Vardeman played for Les Miles at OSU.
“I’ve been a Cowboy fan for life,” Jake said. “Raised wearing orange, yelling ‘Go Pokes!’ Went to a couple games.
“My grandparents have season tickets. I don’t think they’ve missed a game in 20 years or something like that. But I’ve always been around OSU and was really excited when I had a chance to come here.”
On Saturday, Springfield will play his first game in Texas, with Flower Mound being about 45 minutes northeast of Fort Worth. That makes for an easy trip for his parents.
“We’re so proud of him,” Melissa said. “He’s still learning, and getting bigger and stronger. It’s really exciting to watch.
“You dream of this and you want your son to succeed and achieve his dreams, and he has. And we couldn’t be more proud.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.