For the Locketts, setting receiving records at Kansas State is a family business. Current Wildcat Tyler Lockett recently passed his father Kevin’s career receiving yards record and he’s on pace to break his career reception and touchdown records. Tyler’s uncle Aaron is also in the top 5 on the career receiving leaderboards.
But Tyler isn’t just following his father and uncle’s footsteps on the field, he’s also excelling in the classroom as he works toward a business degree like Kevin and Aaron.
Tyler is a finalist for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy, sporting a 3.24 GPA in Business Management.
“They always tell me to get my education first because that can take me farther than any athletic ability,” says Lockett. “I wanted to focus in on that and focus on the things I want to be able to do in life.”
It’s easy to envision Lockett as an NFL wide receiver in the future, but Lockett sees an alternate future for himself that he will pursue regardless of his success at the next level of football: Business owner. His business management degree will help him achieve this dream in the future.
“Even before college, I always wanted to own my own business, and I was still trying to figure out what I was going to major in. One day I was in chapel and I felt God telling me to choose business management,” Lockett says. “When I started taking management classes it made sense because if I want to own my business I might want to be a manager. Taking those classes is something I enjoy doing and hopefully I do end up owning my own business after football.”
Lockett wasn’t highly recruited out of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Ok, but his hard work since the day he arrived at Kansas State has earned him his place in the record books. Fellow team captain, linebacker Jonathan Truman, has played alongside Lockett for four years and says he’s a great example to younger players.
“Younger players can look to Tyler and have a great example of what to do, not only on the field but academically as well,” says Truman. “He’s a guy that stays after practice to work on his route running or catching balls with the JUGS machine and does whatever he needs to do to better himself.”
That mindset extends beyond the football field to the classroom and general time management for Lockett.
“For me it’s work hard and play later. Right now I’m in my purpose, I want to be able to achieve everything that I’m supposed to achieve,” Lockett says. “There might be times in which my roommates or friends go over to people’s houses to play video games or go out on weekends and have fun and I decide to just stay in. Sometimes you just have to take that time to relax your mind.”
Lockett is going to graduate in December, meaning he will graduate in three and a half years with a high GPA in a business major while being one of the nation’s best receivers and kick returners. His advice for freshman who want to follow in his footsteps is simple: Focus.
“My main thing is to focus and emphasize on what you really want to do. The faster you find out what you want to do, the faster you get on track to be able to put yourself in a great position,” Lockett says. “A lot of people I talk to say they partied or didn’t spend enough time on school early in college. It really cost them because now their GPA is showing that. I tell freshman to really work towards that goal and push yourself to reach that.”
And Lockett knows that freshman year isn’t easy. He says he really struggled at the beginning of his career, although Truman remembers it differently, saying he knew “this kid was really going to be special for us.”
Regardless, Lockett knew the expectations were high for him following in his father and uncle’s footsteps and the hardships he faced early in his career taught him valuable lessons that he will take beyond football.
“My dad and uncle created a legacy here, so I had to go through a process. But what I learned throughout that process was to keep God first,” Lockett says. “Throughout being in a place that I could possibly break every record my dad has, or having bad games, or having the opportunity to be a finalist for this award, it’s important to keep God first and not forget how I got to this place. “
As Lockett inches closer to his father’s records, the banter between father and son has gotten less and less.
“At the beginning of the season he would say ‘You might not break it’, but now, there’s no telling what might happen, but the closer I’m getting to it he’s like ‘Uh oh…’” jokes Lockett. “He’s starting to think that I might end up passing him up.”
Lockett has one record down, and two more to go, and it’s clear that he’s benefitted from following in his father’s footsteps on the field, in the classroom, and in life.