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Sexton steps up for KSU

By ARNE GREEN

Special to The HDN

MANHATTAN - Throughout his Kansas State University football career, Curry Sexton has been nothing if not reliable.

Need a 5-yard catch for a first down? He'll get 6. Need a big special teams stop? No. 14 is usually in the middle of it.

But when the Wildcats found themselves a month ago without leading receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, Sexton showed everyone what his coaches and teammates already knew: that he's more than just a security blanket.

On Oct. 5 at Oklahoma State, Thompson already was sidelined with mononucleosis and early in the game Lockett went down with a hamstring injury. That suddenly left Sexton, a 5-foot-11, 183-pound junior from Abilene, and senior Torell Miller as the only wideouts with significant game experience.

Sexton responded with a career-high six catches for 43 yards in a 33-29 K-State loss and, with Thompson and Lockett still out, had three grabs for 50 the following game in a near-upset of unbeaten Baylor.

Since then, Lockett and Thompson have returned, but Sexton's production has continued. He caught six more passes for a career-best 112 yards in a 35-12 victory over West Virginia, then added three more for 22, along with an 8-yard run, as the Wildcats drilled Iowa State, 41-7 last Saturday.

"I think Curry's been playing extremely well," Lockett said after the Iowa State game. "We saw it last week and we even saw it today.

"It's whatever you want Curry to do on offense, he's going to do - whether it's running the ball like he did today or whether it's running a certain route. That's something you want in a receiver and I think some people might look past some of the things that he does, but nothing that anybody does goes unnoticed."

Sexton shrugged off the increased production - his 30 catches for 323 yards now rank second on the team only to Lockett's 44 for 658 - as simply part of the job description.

"I don't think it necessarily changed anything," said Sexton, who has started six of eight games for the 4-4 Wildcats. "When they were out, I was obviously the guy who had been out there the most and been on the field with the most game experience.

"I knew I had to step up and make plays for this team, and even with them back I still need to be able to do that because obviously the defense is going to focus on those two guys a lot and try to take them away from our offensive game plan."

Junior Jake Waters, who shares quarterback duties with sophomore Daniel Sams, said Sexton inspires confidence because of his consistency.

"He's there every day, he's going to work as hard as he possibly can and he's going to give you every ounce of effort," Waters said. "He's so reliable.

"Every time I throw it to him, he catches it, so just him being so consistent and such a reliable receiver gives me and Daniel and everybody else a lot of confidence in him."

Making himself available, Sexton said, is job one.

"I've got to make plays when called up on and that's really the biggest thing," he said. "It doesn't have anything to do with who's number one, number two, number three.

"If you get yourself open, the quarterback's going to find you and you've got to just make a play."

Sexton has yet to find the end zone this season while Lockett has four touchdown catches and Thompson three. His lone career score came last year against Miami, but at his current pace it's only a matter of time.

"I can remember when I was a freshman going out there," Sexton said. "It just felt like everything was moving a million miles a minute and your head was spinning.

"As you get older and as you get game experience and as you make more plays, things kind of slow down for you and you're able to really get adjusted to the game and get into the flow of the game and make things easier."

That, in turn, has made the game more fun.

"It's exciting to go out there and be able to make plays because obviously my first two years I kind of sat around - a couple of plays here and there on special teams and a couple on offense," he said. "But to be able to go out there and be a viable option and be a guy that's counted upon, that's something I've worked for and it's definitely gratifying to be able to go out there and finally do it."