By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Growing up in the Dallas suburb of Denton, Texas, you might think Jimmy Bean had dreams of playing college football for the University of Texas or Texas A&M. But when it came time to sign his national letter of intent in 2011, all Bean wanted was some place that felt like home.
“I wanted to go somewhere with people I knew,” Bean said. “I didn’t want to go somewhere and be lost.”
It turns out that place ended up being 230 miles away in Stillwater, where he joined J.W. Walsh and Josh Stewart as a trio of Guyer High School grads now playing for the Cowboys.
“When I came up here, J-Dub was already up here, so I had somebody I knew,” Bean said. “Then Josh came with us, so that’s just a plus. Then Dom(inic Ramacher) is up here now too. It just feels like home — it feels like high school.”
But where Stewart’s 101 catches and Walsh’s 1,564 passing yards have helped the duo make a name for themselves last season, Bean has sort of become a forgotten member of that trio.
That was until Saturday’s spring game.
Bean recorded two sacks and a fumble recovery, showing that the sophomore is ready to have just as much of an impact for Oklahoma State this fall.
“He’s had a good offseason,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s got a long ways to go but he’s got a good frame, he’s got a good motor and his attitude’s real good at this time. … I feel really good about our approach up front with him being as successful as he was this spring.”
“I felt like I was out there enough and I got to show the coaches what I can do in a game situation, with the fans and all the people watching,” Bean said. “My goal is to just beat them around the edge with speed.”
Speed has always been a big part of Bean’s game. Which is perhaps why suffering a dislocated knee last season was not only physically tough, but also mentally challenging for the sophomore.
But that’s when he turned to Walsh and Stewart — two guys who have known him seemingly ever since they first picked up a football.
“They helped me out a lot,” Bean said. “They’d come up to me and be like, ‘Hey, you’re going to be all right,’ or ‘You’ll be back in no time. Just hang in there.’ It really kind of lifted me up and kept me focused on getting healthy.”
And when Walsh went down with a knee injury last season, was it really a surprise that Bean was right there with him?
“I had to do something,” Bean said. “He’s like my brother. He was on such a high after getting a chance to start, to see that happen to him — I just hurt for the guy.”
Now that all three are healthy and fighting for starting spots as the Cowboys head into the summer, it’s pretty safe to say there will be a caravan making the road trip from Denton to Boone Pickens Stadium each Saturday.
And even if the caravan — led by Guyer coach and Walsh’s dad, John Walsh — can’t make it to every game, somewhere on the sidelines two other members of Guyer’s class of 2011 will be there supporting their teammate in good times and bad.
“It was pretty cool to see (Bean) have a good day,” Stewart said after Saturday’s spring game. “We’ve been playing with each other for so long, we all have a special bond together. It’s like we’re one big family. So whether it’s J-Dub, Jimmy or myself out there making plays, we’re all kind of cheering each other on and supporting each other.”