Stoner ending college career in bowl game, ready to take chance on NFL

Jason Elmquist/Stillwater News Press Oklahoma State redshirt senior Dillon Stoner (17) said he’s ready to shift his focus to his next journey in football after five years with the Cowboys – electing to forgo the extra year of eligibility granted for all football players by the NCAA due to the pandemic, in order to try to make it to the NFL level.

Dillon Stoner has Oklahoma State orange pulsing through his blood.

His mother attended college at Oklahoma State University, so he grew up in Oklahoma as a Cowboy fan.

He was one of the select fraction of Oklahoma football players who actually got the opportunity to live out the dream of playing Division I football. But now, he wants to shift his dream to the next level.

Stoner had made reference to Baylor – the regular season finale – that having a career day, in which he had eight catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the absence of star receiver Tylan Wallace, “as my last game, was definitely something very special for me.”

He confirmed that notion prior to the Cowboys heading to the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida, where Oklahoma State will face the University of Miami to conclude one of the most unique college football seasons. The Cheez-It Bowl will be his final game in an OSU uniform.

“I’ve had a great five years here – redshirting my freshman year – and being able to play a full four seasons was definitely a blessing,” Stoner said. “It’s just time. I’m about to turn 23 next year, and I want to give the next level a shot, so I feel like I have a good opportunity to do so. Like I said, I’ve had a fantastic career here, wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s just time to move on to the next thing.”

Dillon Stoner won’t go down in the record books of Oklahoma State football – though his outing against the Bears made a push for them, as it was the third-highest single-game total in program history.

It was just a glimpse of the potential he has shown at times within the program.

A year earlier, under similar circumstances with Wallace out due to injury, the Jenks native caught 16 passes for 366 yards and five touchdowns over a four-game span – with a high of five catches for 150 yards and two scores against Kansas.

“He’s as steady as a rock. He comes in every day, he’s a worker just like Tylan is – really athletic, just like Tylan is,” said Kasey Dunn, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and receivers coach. “We just haven’t thrown the football probably as much over the last couple years. So he hasn’t gotten the numbers that maybe we did in that 2017 season that I just talked about, alluding to with James (Washington) and Marcell (Ateman) and Chris Lacy. That group was loaded.”

With his performance against Baylor, Stoner eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the fifth time in his career – with a pair in 2017, another in the upset of No. 7-ranked West Virginia in 2018 and the Kansas game last season.

So with those flashes, was there any thought of taking advantage of the NCAA eligibility waiver granted due to the pandemic and play one more year – likely as the feature receiver in the Oklahoma State offense?

“I haven’t thought about that too much,” Stoner said. “I feel like I’m comfortable with what I have on film with the things that I’ve been able to show, so just going to give this last game my all and hopefully go out on a high note.”

He has at least caught the eye of some draft experts.

ESPN’s NFL Draft rankings, have Stoner listed among the wide receivers in their rankings – though he ranks 36th out of the 37 that the website ranks. He is ranked No. 217 overall, which would put him in the seventh round to undrafted free agent area.

Perhaps aiding in his decision to focus on the future, is seeing the future of the receiver group for Oklahoma State first hand.

There are several other seniors on the roster who very well may take advantage of the extra year, but there is also a budding group of young talent – such as redshirt freshman Langston Anderson and true freshman Brennan Presley – ready to take over for the likes of Wallace and Stoner.

“We’re in really good shape with the young guys that we have right now,” Stoner said. “We’ve had a lot of guys really grow up and matured a lot over the season, got a lot of reps – maybe just haven’t seen as much on Saturday.

“But guys are going to step up and fill in. You’ll see more young guys like Rashod (Owens), Brennan Presley, the list goes on and on. So I know they’re going to continue to work hard and keep adding great names in the Oklahoma State receiving corps.”

While he may be at peace with his decision to hang up his Cowboy uniform after one last ride, it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an emotional moment when he takes off the orange and black jersey for the final time following the bowl game.

“Oh man, it’s gonna be tough,” Stoner admitted. “Probably be pretty emotional, but like I said, I’ve had one hell of a time here and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

“He’s one of the reasons why Tylan (Wallace) came back – he just wanted to play with Dillon Stoner again.”

Kasey Dunn

OSU offensive coordinator on Dillon Stoner

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