Tulsa WR Gets To Play in Final Game
TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Walk-on wide receiver Jeremy Golden endured two years of workouts and the skepticism of those who thought the 5-foot-4, 146-pound student journalist was too small to play college football.
But in the fourth quarter of the last game of his senior year _ after suiting up and standing on the sidelines for two seasons _ Golden heard Tulsa coaches call his number.
Golden made his debut Saturday with about eight minutes left in the game, when Tulsa was leading Wyoming 35-0. Golden doesn’t remember much about the three or four snaps he played.
``Once I actually started running on the field I was less nervous because I knew what to do,″ Golden said Tuesday from his parents’ home in Albuquerque, N.M. ``It’s kind of like an out-of-body experience.″
Fans in the stands began chanting ``Rudy″ in reference to the popular movie about a Notre Dame football player who played 27 seconds of his final home game as a senior.
Golden Hurricane linebacker Allen Blackmon ran in Golden’s direction and gained 19 yards on the first down the newcomer played.
``People told me I made a great block,″ Golden said.
Golden, the smallest guy on the Tulsa roster, had never played organized football before walking onto the team during spring 1997 drills. The tennis aficionado said the Tulsa football coaches feared he would be hurt. They never promised he would get to play.
Teammates told him they were surprised he stuck with the poundings in practice through even one semester.
``Most people were supportive to a point,″ he said. ``They weren’t going to stop me from doing it, but a lot of people thought I was crazy, yeah.″
But Golden gained 20 pounds and got faster. He hung on through the 1997 season, when he was redshirted, and through the first 10 games this year without getting to play.
Receivers coach Ron Taylor said Golden was always punctual to practice and never missed a team meeting despite knowing his chances of getting into a game were minimal.
``He’s a very persistent kid,″ Taylor said. ``He might not finish first, but he finished. And that’s a lesson for life.″
Golden said savoring his brief game-time experience will make the Thanksgiving holidays more special.
If he hadn’t gotten to play, he said, ``it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but it surely would have been disappointing.″
Golden, who graduates in May with a degree in mass communications, is the sports editor for the college’s weekly newspaper. He advised other wannabe players to try football if they are willing to work hard.
``Was it worth it? Oh yeah, it was worth it,″ he said. ``I still have the desire to play football. I miss it already.″