Coach's invite brings Sanders, Dykes to spring game
STILLWATER, Okla. -- With a flurry of handshakes, hugs and clicks of the camera, some of the most recognizable names from Oklahoma State's past came together again Saturday.
About 275 former players responded to an invitation from coach Mike Gundy, the school's all-time passing leader, to come to Stillwater as the Cowboys played their spring game.
Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders and Hart Lee Dykes were among those who returned, along with more recent stars including Houston Texans tailback Vernand Morency.
"There's an awful lot of good players here. Talented guys, good guys, a lot of reasons we won a lot of football games," said Pat Jones, who coached the Cowboys from 1984 to 1994.
The players ambled out to the middle of the football field at halftime and were recognized as a group over the loud speaker. Many watched the second half of the scrimmage from the corner of the field near the east end zone.
"This is great," said Dykes, who ranks No. 2 on the school's career receiving list with 203 catches for 3,171 yards and 29 touchdowns. "I've seen guys today that I haven't seen in 10 or 15 years. For us to sit there and laugh and cut-up is really fun. It brings back a lot of memories."
Gundy said about 150 former players attended a function on Friday night and about 200 came to a golf tournament earlier on Saturday.
"We couldn't ask for anything more," said Gundy, who played with Sanders and Dykes for three seasons. "We're expecting to have over 400 next year."
Gundy had hoped bringing the school's past football stars back would increase attendance at Oklahoma State's spring game. Attendance was estimated at 15,000, more than double the 7,000 that came to last year's spring game following three straight bowl appearances by the Cowboys.
"We used have crowds like this for our Saturday scrimmages," Jones said. "It's been a while. Saturday mornings when people wanted to come see Thurman [Thomas] and Barry and those guys, we had big crowds out here."
R.W. McQuarters, who signed with the New York Giants this season, said it's a little disappointing for him to see the stadium as it undergoes renovations costing more than $100 million.
"You wish you had it when you were here, but I always say I'm still a part of it," McQuarters said.
Mainly, though, McQuarters was glad to visit with his former teammates and see a football program he feels is on its way up.
Jones said he wished each of the Cowboys' current players could meet each of the former players one on one.
"These guys here, these former players, in certain ways we've got the same mamas and daddies and that's this football field," Jones said. "Those things don't go away. This is ultimately really what it's all about, these types of relationships, these types of things here.
"The teams that won a lot of games, the teams that didn't win a lot of games, they all have a common bond because they were good players here."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press