MANHATTAN, Kan. — Members of the Kansas State football team react the same way most of us do when they encounter a question with no obvious answer. They turn to Google.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
Only, in their case, they don’t fire up a computer and type words into a search engine. Google is also their nickname for receiver Curry Sexton.
Sexton, a junior from Abilene, Kan., has long had a knack for storing useful information in his brain. That’s partly why Ivy League schools, including Harvard, recruited him as a high school senior, and why he has already received a marketing degree from K-State. Ask him about football, school or current events, and he always seems to have an answer.
“He is so smart,” K-State receiver Tyler Lockett said. “If you have any question and you need to know the answer fast, he’s the guy to ask. He can tell you whether a certain player is in the NFL, where he went to college and sometimes where he played in high school. He is the first to know about trades, stats, anything really. He knows everything.”
He can play a little football, too.
Expectations were low for Sexton, a 5-foot-11, 183-pounder, when he arrived at K-State, but he is starting to look like a legitimate starter in the Big 12. This season he has caught 36 passes for 409 yards and he has served as the Wildcats’ No. 3 receiver. His breakout moment came against West Virginia, when he made six grabs for a career-high 112 yards.
He doesn’t have the breakaway speed of Lockett or the big-play potential of Tramaine Thompson, but quarterback Jake Waters considers him a reliable target.
“He is just so consistent,” Waters said. “At the beginning of the year, he was out there just trying to get playing time. Now he is out there making plays. I rarely ever see him make a mistake or drop a ball. He is out there blocking as hard as he can. He is the ultimate team player. I wish everyone on the team played like him.”
Sexton’s improvement stems from the same origin as his nickname. His ability to process information and store it away for quick access allowed him to master Bill Snyder’s offense quickly.
Sexton wasn’t sure what position he would play for the Wildcats. In high school, he did a little bit of everything, lining up at defensive back, receiver and quarterback. But he was ready for anything.
That much was obvious when coaches decided he was best suited for receiver and he played 11 games as a freshman.
“It took a little getting used to playing wide receiver at this level,” Sexton said. “In high school you just run deep. There’s a lot more to it in the Big 12. I’m not the biggest or fastest dude , so I knew I had to be smart and be precise with my routes. That approach helped me find success.”
That approach almost landed him a spot at one of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, too. Columbia and Princeton both sent coaches to Abilene for in-home visits, and Harvard wanted to schedule one. Midway through his senior year of high school, he was convinced he was going to school on the East Coast.
He had good grades and realized that playing in the NFL was an unlikely dream. He has always seen himself more as a future coach, scout or general manager, like his uncle John Dorsey (the Chiefs’ general manager), than a future pro football player. Why not use football as a vehicle to attend an Ivy League school? It made sense.
There was only one problem: Harvard wasn’t K-State, the football program he grew up admiring.
When the Wildcats offered him a scholarship late – Sexton still remembers the exact date, Dec. 31, 2009 – he accepted immediately.
It didn’t matter that they wanted him to defer enrolling for a semester, or grayshirt. He told the Ivy League coaches he was staying home.
“People ask why I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton all the time,” Sexton said. “The biggest thing was when I looked into the future I saw myself going to one of those schools and getting a degree and landing a high-paying job, but how much do you really want to sit behind a desk for the rest of your life?
“Or you can come here and play for a coaching legend and learn from him and build connections for the rest of your life in an industry you want to be in. Football is where I spend all my time. It is what I love. I can’t imagine doing something else.”
He might not have to. He will finish his junior season in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 28 against Michigan and be in the mix for K-State’s No. 2 receiving spot as a senior. From there, the possibilities are endless.
Sexton isn’t sure what career path he will take, but he knows this: He will spend much of his free time watching, studying and researching football the same way he does now.
Google wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The way things worked out for me at K-State really is a dream come true,” Sexton said. “This is something I never thought would happen. To come out here and contribute and make key plays … I can’t explain how much it means to me. It is unreal, and I am loving every second of it.”
To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.