The two top returning wide receivers in the Big 12 entering the 2013 season both have ties to this area.
Obviously, Oklahoma State star Josh Stewart starred at Guyer for three seasons and helped lead the Wildcats to their first state championship game appearance in 2010 before breaking out last season for the Cowboys and posting 101 receptions, 1,210 yards and eight touchdowns (seven receiving).
Eric Ward was battling Stewart in high school as a standout receiver at Wichita Falls Rider, the cream of the District 5-4A crop back then with Ward and Michigan-bound quarterback Shavodrick Beaver.
In 2008, when Guyer was starting its rapid ascent to Texas High School Football powerhouse status, Stewart was a diminutive sophomore cornerback and Ward was a beastly wideout committed to Oklahoma before his last-second flip to Texas Tech.
Guyer, the surprising out-of-nowhere team, met the district favorite Rider in October, a game Rider won 31-28 to hand the surprising Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Does Ward remember seeing Stewart on the field? Not really. The jovial Tech wideout, who happens to be a great quote, was quick to respond when asked what it was like going against Stewart in high school as opposed to now.
“Was he guarding me?” Ward quipped.
The answer is no. That was Marquis Smith.
“I hope not because I don’t remember him. But we beat them. Every year.”
Stewart remembers being a bit in awe of Ward as a 5-5, 150-pound cornerback trying to get his varsity feet wet. Stewart said it’s cool to realize he and Ward are the top two returning receivers in the Big 12 after the Tech senior posted 82 catches for 1,053 and 12 scores.
“It’s always good to have a guy you played against in the younger days and you get to a higher level and you’re at the top together,” Stewart said. “That’s a cool feeling. I didn’t expect nothing less from him. He was a great wide receiver in high school. We had to double-team him in high school. It’s nothing surprising. I think he’ll do good. We just have to see how the season turns out.”
Ward, two years Stewart’s senior, reverted back to how small Stewart was then and how young he looks now.
“I’m older than him, so I don’t really remember much about him then,” Ward said. “I didn’t know he even looked that young. Today [at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas] I was like, ‘Is that Josh Stewart? He looks young.’”
So who’s the better receiver? College football fans might be able to make that call in the coming months, but both have positioned themselves as the cream of the crop in the Big 12 and as members of the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, awarded annually to the top wide receiver in college football.
“That’s up for other people to decide,” Stewart said with his signature grin.