CNHI News Service
The clock is ticking down for the senior members of the Oklahoma State football team.
With just two games remaining in the season, the OSU seniors are starting to realize their college careers as Cowboys are coming to a close.
For Lane Taylor, it’s been one illustrious career.
The offensive lineman has started in every game for Oklahoma State since the third game of his freshman season. And now, there’s just two games left to add to his starting total.
“It’s all really winding down. I played my last home game (against Texas Tech), so that was a really big marking point to make me realize that my career is coming to an end here,” Taylor said. “But it’s been a great run and I’ve had a lot of fun.”
The fact Taylor has never been supplanted on the line, or missed time due to injury, speaks to his consistency for the Cowboys.
“It’s not like he’s torn up the world, but he’s done a nice job, he’s consistent and we’re happy and blessed that we have him,” OSU offensive line coach Joe Wickline said. “But the biggest thing is just the consistency that he brings. He’s always there, he doesn’t make many mistakes and he’s solid and dependable.”
But Wickline admitted that he was taking a bit of a gamble when throwing Taylor into the starting rotation his freshman season.
“He’s been kind of surprising on the front end because you didn’t really know years ago what you had there for a year or so,” Wickline said. “... We had some issues there, we were trying to move some guys around because we had a bunch of tackles but not many guards and thought there for a while that he was too young. So we gave it a whirl and kind of tried him out there and he stepped up. So he really proved himself and took advantage of that opportunity given to him.”
The early success of Taylor made an impact on the young offensive linemen who came in with Taylor. Junior Parker Graham saw Taylor jump up the depth chart in Graham’s redshirt season — giving Graham a guiding light to make a similar move into the starting rotation as a sophomore.
“It was something that stuck so well with me that I just had to work hard and I could possibly get on the field,” Graham said. “... It just adds character to Lane — working so hard and overcoming a lot to get there.”
Taylor has been at the forefront of the recent success the Cowboy program has had. In his freshman year, OSU earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl and by his junior season Oklahoma State earned its first BCS bowl bid — and victory.
“I couldn’t imagine the amount of success that this program has had in just the four years I’ve played here,” Taylor said. “It’s just really gone to another level and it’s great to be a part of that.”
The Cowboy program has seen success in the running game in the four years Taylor has been on the line. From Keith Toston and Kendall Hunter his first two years to Joseph Randle these past two, the running backs have had success behind the OSU offensive line anchored by the Arlington, Texas, native.
“He’s had a very accomplished career. He’s probably one of the greatest lineman I’ve ever been around,” Randle said. “... He’s had a lot of 1,000-yard backs behind him. He’s had a 1,000-yard back running behind him for all four years that he’s played. That’s an accomplishment. He’s been a part of a great line every year, and he’s just a great player.”
Randle said having a player like Taylor on the line makes it easier for running backs to focus on their job running or pass blocking.
“I’m comfortable with Lane,” Randle said. “I always know he’s going to handle his business. When you’ve got guys like that, it makes you more comfortable with being able to just worry about your job.”
And it’s that type of player that will be difficult for Wickline to try to replace when Taylor plays his last game as a Cowboy.
“Other guys are taller, other guys are this or that, but he’s been a standard,” Wickline said. “He will definitely be hard to lose. He’s just been such a staple and a rock for who we are and what we’ve done for many years here.”
JASON ELMQUIST is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.