Oklahoma State football: Why Cowboys can't help falling in love with Brennan Presley's potential after Cheez-It Bowl breakout
ORLANDO, Fla. — In the moments following Oklahoma State’s 37-34 victory over Miami, Cowboy offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn tracked down receiver Brennan Presley in the locker room beneath Camping World Stadium.
Dunn had a message for Presley, the shining star of the Cheez-It Bowl victory on Tuesday night — and the message had nothing to do with Presley’s brilliant performance, but with what comes next.
“He needs to be a great leader for us,” Dunn said.
Dunn was elated over Presley’s 118-yard, three-touchdown performance, and all the different talents Presley showed.
But Dunn also was thinking about what’s ahead for a wide receiver group that loses Tylan Wallace, Dillon Stoner and Landon Wolf next season.
“That’s a big loss moving into 2021,” Dunn said. “(Presley) needs to step up and step into that role a little bit, and start taking some responsibility there.”
A 5-foot-8, 165-pound true freshman from Bixby, Presley dropped the first ball that was thrown to him on Tuesday, a critical pass on third-and-6 that looked like it might stifle the Cowboys’ opening possession after they had moved to the Miami 30-yard line.
But OSU coach Mike Gundy decided to go for it on fourth down, and Presley got open deep and caught a slightly underthrown pass from Spencer Sanders for a touchdown.
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Later in the first quarter, Presley took a short throw and zig-zagged through the defense for a score to give OSU a 21-0 lead.
His third touchdown was the decisive score of the game in the fourth quarter, and he almost had another score earlier, but he stepped out of bounds while trying to tip-toe down the sideline.
“It’s the same thing that I’ve seen from the last three years of high school,” Gundy said., “What he has going for him is… he loves to play football, he’s unselfish, he’s tough, he’s athletic and he’s not scared. That’s what he is. He’s just gonna get better and better with experience.”
Presley suffered an unspecified injury in the Baylor game that Mike Gundy described as “significant,” and said it was the type of injury that keeps players out “up to four weeks.”
But Presley was back at full speed in half that time.
Dunn had told the younger players they’d be more involved in the second half of the game, but slot receiver Landon Wolf got injured early, opening the door for Presley to play even more than expected.
“Shoutout to Landon Wolf,” Presley said. “It was his last game as a senior. I expected him to get most of the reps.
“If you would’ve told me I would have this type of game, I never would’ve believed it.”
The older players like Wolf, Stoner and Wallace played a critical role in Presley’s development over the course of the season, even if it didn’t show in the form of statistics before Tuesday.
“I learned how to be a leader, how to deal with teammates, how to do things the right way,” Presley said. “Being around all those guys, they really became my best friends this year and they helped me with things on the field and off the field, just teaching me stuff.
“And it’s genuine. It’s not like it’s something they feel like they have to do. They’re all great guys and they genuinely want to see not only me, but other young guys — they all want to see us succeed.
“I think I can do my due diligence to them by just carrying on what they did. It’s gonna be a hard task, trying to bring that energy and leadership that they did. But they gave me a great path and great tools to use for the young guys coming up.”
Leadership might be the last piece of the puzzle for an innately gifted receiver who could be next in line among OSU stars.
“He’s a great player. We knew that,” Dunn said. “I’m looking forward to working more over the next couple years with the kid, because he’s got some things about him that are different.”