Tahlequah Daily Press


August 15, 2012

OSU linemen play the name game

STILLWATER — What’s in a name?

For members of the Oklahoma State football team, there is plenty.

Simply calling a teammate by his first or last name is easy to do. Coming up with a nickname — and one that will stick — is an art.

So for the Cowboys, they have a delegation. A committee.

Enter the offensive line.

Whether they like it or not, teammates find themselves with nicknames bestowed upon them by the nickname committee, made up of offensive linemen.

“We are in charge of naming everybody,” starting center Evan Epstein said. “We have many secret nicknames for all kinds of people.”

Some of the names come because of a player’s demeanor, such as junior offensive lineman Brandon Webb — who the committee nicknamed Teddy Bear.

“He’s just a big, nice teddy bear kind of guy,” Epstein said. “He’s a fierce competitor on the field, but off the field he’s just a big teddy when you know him.”

But typically a nickname is bestowed upon a teammate due to him being a doppelganger.

“We like naming people that look like people,” senior offensive lineman Lane Taylor said. “Like (defensive tackle) Anthony Rogers — Afro Thunder (a video game character in the ‘Ready 2 Rumble Boxing’ series).

“It’s just a fun thing we do. We’re around each other 24/7, so it’s just like having your brothers in your house with you all the time — you’re going to pick on each other a little bit,” Taylor added.

Some nicknames even need a backstory, otherwise they make no sense. Such as Taylor’s nickname given to him from offensive line coach Joe Wickline: Big Jim.

“I worked at a pizza place in high school named ‘Mr. Jim’ so that’s how I got that,” Taylor said. “Coach Wickline will ask me what I’m doing on film and be like, ‘Are you thinking about pepperoni pizza on that play or what?’”

The big men in the trenches can come up with all the nicknames they want, just as long as they don’t try to rename the defensive secondary.

“Those guys shouldn’t come up with any kinds of names. They call us something but we don’t listen to them — but who does?” senior cornerback Brodrick Brown joked. “... We don’t pay them any attention. ‘Go back to blocking,’ that’s what we’ll tell them.”

The secondary already has their nicknames for each other and don’t need any outsiders — let alone members of the offensive side of the ball — coming up with some bogus names.

“You’ve got ‘Swag Lowe’ in Daytawaion Lowe because he’s always swagging. Then you got Justin Gilbert, who calls himself ‘Savage’ and then there’s ‘Pit bull’ or ‘The Bulldog’ — or my favorite, ‘The Champ’ — in myself,” Brown said. “And can’t forget ‘Big Play’ Andrae May. ... So we’ve got some pretty legit names already in the secondary.”

While the players have fun coming up with creative nicknames for themselves or their teammates, there is one person who may try to rain on their parade — and no, it’s not a coach.

Elder statesman Jonathan Rush, a sixth-year senior offensive lineman, just wants to go about his business — which is a stark contrast from his typically humorous demeanor.

“Their too young for me. They come up with all these little fun things and I just want to go to practice, go do film then go home and go to sleep,” said Rush, who turned 23 a day after OSU’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. “They come up with all these little games. ... Chris Grisbhy said the other day that my nickname should be ‘unk’ (short for uncle) because I’m so old.

“I don’t know how I like that just yet. But I’ll just be a trooper and play along.”

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