DALLAS, Texas - Oklahoma State freshman wide receiver Austin Hays went from being an unheralded high school prospect to being a starter in the Big 12 in a matter of just a few months. He talked about his journey to Stillwater and looked back on his freshman season:
On how he came to Oklahoma State:
"The last week leading up to signing day, I took an official to Oklahoma State and thought they were going to offer me. They didn't, so I didn't know what I was going to do. I had a couple smaller offers - nobody from the Big 12. I sat in the signing room and watched some of my friends sign at about 7:30. Then I was sitting in my accounting class and heard my phone buzz. It was Coach Monken. I figured something had to be up. I walked outside and answered it. He said he wanted to offer me and I accepted. I signed the papers and faxed them over just like that."
On who he had offers from before Oklahoma State:
"I had offers from Air Force, Navy, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, all the D-2s in Texas."
On what made him accept OSU's offer as quickly and decisively as he did:
"It was everybody and everything. I liked the offense. I like that OSU wins and expects to win. I liked Coach Monken and my family liked him. He sold Oklahoma State to us. It was a great opportunity for me and I couldn't pass it up."
On his mindset in training camp:
"During training camp, I was just trying to learn everything and just pick it all up. I wanted to be the guy that everyone can rely on. I wanted to be able to catch the ball and always do my assignment just how I'm supposed to. It just so happened with injuries and so on that I got the opportunity and it worked out."
On what he considers to be his strengths:
"Running the right plays and catching the ball. I take pride in my blocking. We pass the ball all over the place, but a lot of times, we're running quick screens out wide. You've got to be a good blocking team on the perimeter to be effective doing that and that's an area that I take pride in."
On what he's learned about college football:
"The speed of the game is a lot faster - a lot faster. It's a completely different animal. Everybody's faster. Everybody's bigger. Everybody's stronger. There are no shortcuts in anything. You have to know what route you're running, what coverage they're in - you've got to know all that. In high school, you can get away with not knowing all that because maybe the other team just isn't as good. But here, everybody's good and fast, so you've really got to concentrate and get any advantage you can."
On what the biggest difference is between high school and college football:
"The preparation. Video, practice, getting little tips on what the other team likes to do - how they play certain things. You need to be on top of that because they're scouting you and they know everything about you."
On who have been the most helpful people for him at Oklahoma State:
"Definitely Charlie Moore. He's been my buddy. He's my roommate. Coach Dunn and Coach Linder. Me and J.W. Walsh are good friends. He's helped talk me through it and has helped me out any time I've needed anything."
On his "Welcome to the Big 12" moment:
"I had to block Jake Knott from Iowa State one time and he threw me on the ground like a rag doll. I was like `this is big time right here'. That was probably it."
On what he considers the most enjoyable aspects of his freshman year:
"Just playing in front of so many people. That trip up to Manhattan. Last year, I was that guy sitting on his couch watching College Gameday and the ABC primetime games and now I get to play in them. It's a dream come true."
On what his advice would be to high school players that are trying to play major college football:
"Keep working hard. If an opportunity comes up and you really want to do it, then you need to take it and make the most of it. You're going to have to work hard for everything you get and you have to be someone that your team can rely on. You can't screw up when you get your shot."