A major, unexpected shift happened to the Oklahoma State receiving corps Wednesday, but it didn’t hinder the group Saturday afternoon.
Although the Cowboys didn’t pass a lot in their 34-27 victory against TCU, a familiar target was the steady rock for the passing game in the limited opportunities.
As Tylan Wallace, OSU’s receiving leader in yards and touchdowns, was taken off to the side at the midweek practice with what turned out to be an ACL tear, there was still work to be done. OSU offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson gathered his receivers up and asked who was going to step into Tylan’s position.
In the huddle, Dillon Stoner puffed his chest up, looked Gleeson in the eye and said it would be him.
The redshirt junior was given the opportunity, and he validated his confidence against the Horned Frogs. Stoner caught three balls for 93 yards and two touchdowns, all of which came in the first half. His three catches were one-third of the Cowboys’ nine completions all game.
His first touchdown came on a 57-yard bomb from quarterback Spencer Sanders, and the second was a 22-yard contested catch in the corner of the end zone, much like Wallace has done in the past.
Before his big game Saturday, Stoner came in with 25 catches for 232 yards on the season.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said Wallace’s injury nearly ruined his week, but Stoner showed him why he was just as special.
It started in a light practice on Thursday. Stoner dove for a ball in the end zone and caught it with one hand, on a pass that was similar to his second touchdown Saturday. The effort was good enough to cause Gundy to raise an eyebrow and foreshadowed what was to come against TCU.
“Stoner is what he is,” Gundy said. “... Nobody lays out on Thursdays. He does. He doesn’t care. That’s the kind of young man we have, and that’s why he plays the way he plays.”
While doing his best Wallace impersonation on the practice field, Stoner’s preparation for his increased role included the film room as well. He said that through the week, he watched a lot of Wallace’s tape to find things to build on, and he plans to continue.
“There’s still a lot of improvement that I need to do on my side,” Stoner said. “But watching him will definitely help me get to where I need to be.”
As he moves on for preparation of OSU’s final three Big 12 games, Stoner said his performance against TCU will be one to remember. His sister and other family friends were in the crowd to see his first multi-touchdown game of his career, something he said was fun to know as he played well.
For most teams, replacing a receiver like Wallace, who had 903 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games, is tough. Although there will still be some adjusting to do for the Cowboys, Sanders said having a veteran player like Stoner to step into the role makes his life easier.
“(Stoner) is a great receiver and it’s great to see him show his talent,” Sanders said. “I believe he’s just as good as Tylan, and he works really hard.”