A 2013 graduate of Quapaw High School in Quapaw, Okla., Tyler Bacon has heard one common phrase from his head coach every time he goes up against a school from Oklahoma.
The Fort Hays State University senior wide receiver has grown used to hearing it.
“Coach Brown always tells me ‘Let them know why you came to Kansas,’ ” Bacon said.
Saturday against Northeastern State University at Lewis Field Stadium, Bacon likely will play a team from Oklahoma for the final time as a member of the Tigers, but he never really thinks about that.
A true workhorse in the Tiger receiving unit, the fifth-year senior just worries about doing his job. The last three seasons, that’s been catching passes.
“We knew our roles, and that’s a sign of a good team,” Bacon said, speaking about a talented and deep receiver unit. “Guys know if I do this and he does this well, we can all feed off each other.”
The one thing Tiger junior quarterback Jacob Mezera knows is he can keep feeding that ball to Bacon.
“Bacon is just awesome. He’ll go get the ball no matter what,” Mezera said. “His route running is amazing. He makes my job a lot easier.”
He’s the Tigers’ leading receiver with 16 catches through three games, averaging 7.8 yards per catch, and predominantly works out of the slot. That means more often than not, he knows he’s going to take a hit. That’s helped him become a tougher player.
“Coach (Chris) Brown, Coach (Al) McCray, they instill that stuff in us,” Bacon said. “That’s just the mentality you have to take as a slot receiver.
“You know you’re going to take hits, you now you’re going to have to block a lot. That’s my role.”
Need more proof Bacon is a true role player. In 38 games played for the Tigers — 22 starts and one full season as the Tigers’ leading pass-catcher (38 a year ago) — Bacon has yet to find the end zone. That might come with time, but Mezera knows who he can go to when the Tigers need a big play, when sometimes that is bigger than a score.
“He is going to get open, no matter what,” Mezera said.
And Bacon knows as the schedule gets tougher, those yards are going to be harder to come by, especially if the Tigers continue their climb in the Division II ranks.
“It’s the MIAA. Every team, especially now, they’re going to give us their best shot,” Bacon said. “We just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
For Bacon, that’s just getting open and catching the ball.