The Wallendas are synonymous with tightroping. The Bushes and Clintons, the U.S. presidency.
And in the Big 12, the Locketts are synonymous with Kansas State football.
Going into the final month of his college career, Tyler Lockett is closing in on breaking the receiving records his dad, Kevin, set at K-State from 1993-96.
“There aren’t many places where the dad was the record holder, and the son broke it,” Tyler said. “The big thing is it’s staying in the family. It’s one of those great accolades our family will always have.”
The two Locketts joined ESPN.com on the phone at the same time to discuss the record, what K-State football has meant to them and what they like to do together besides discuss football:
What does K-State mean to you guys?
Tyler: He can go first (laughing).
Kevin: Well, for me, the university means quite a bit. It’s been such a large part of our family’s lives. It’s had such an impact on our lives. That was a large reason why I was happy when Tyler selected Kansas State, simply because I knew he’d be playing for almost the same staff I played under, as well as my brother (Aaron). But also, the comfort, knowing if Tyler did the right things, he’d be able to graduate and transition into life after football as well. That’s why I’m so involved at the university. I’m sitting on several boards at the university. That’s why we have been donators back to the university from a time and resource perspective. Because that university has had such a tremendous impact on our family’s lives.
Tyler: I agree. For me, ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a history there, with my dad and Uncle Aaron both going to Kansas State, being able to watch them on TV. Even when they graduated, I still went to my grandpa’s house and watched Kansas State, whether it was Josh Freeman or Jordy Nelson, I was a fan. Being able to come to Kansas State, it’s meant a lot to me. I’ve been able to grow up and mature and become a man while I’ve been here. Being able to experience the family type of atmosphere that many people talk about. We don’t just talk about it, though, we show it. I actually feel as if Kansas State is a second family for me.
Has the joint experience brought you two closer?
Tyler: It always gives you something to talk about. We both went to the same middle school, same high school and now same college. We can always talk about football, life, whatever I’m dealing with. When he comes to watch me, he doesn’t just watch the game like a lot of fans, he watches exactly what I do. He can tell me specifically what I need to work on, or emphasize in practice. That helps me work on my weaknesses, and scout myself. Whenever football is over, I’m going to have to do that in the workforce as well. Me learning to do this stuff now in football will help me in the real world.
Kevin: When people make a big deal about the records -- I would love for Tyler to surpass anything I was able to do on the field, and that’s simply because my job is for his life to be more successful. I also want Tyler to be more successful off the field than I was or I have been. If families have that type of mentality, they get better and better. So my hope when Tyler gets married and has kids, he has the same feeling with his kids. Generationally, our goal should be to get better as a family. It has helped that Tyler has gone to the same university, played the same position, played for the same coaching staff -- having those nuances that are so familiar have allowed me to provide Tyler insight.
What do you guys like to do together when you’re not talking football?
Tyler: Well, after I finish football, I’m going to start beating him in bowling. I’ve started to get better in bowling. Then I need to work on my golf game again. I’ve been struggling in that lately. Once I get that going, I’ll be able to give Dad a run for his money. The last time we went golfing he beat me by 35-40 strokes.
You talk trash to him, Kevin?
Kevin: Yeah, we always have fun. I don’t care who you are, when you’re an athlete, there is always a competitive gene you have. Deep down, Tyler knows I want him to surpass anything I’ve ever done. But we always have fun. I always challenge him. We’re always competitive in all things. The last time he was home we played one-on-one basketball out in the driveway.
Tyler, did you ever beat him in anything?
Tyler: I think he pretty much pummeled me in everything. It was, 'I’m not going to take it easy on you.' Usually parents will let their kids win at something to make them feel good (laughing). But that’s what helped bring out the competitor in me. If I win, I want to win fair and square. You don’t want to win just because somebody let you.
What is your favorite memory of each other?
Kevin: Tyler grew up really ingrained in Kansas State and Kansas City Chiefs football. He would go to many of the games with my parents. Although I never witnessed it, my parents would say that Tyler would run up and down the stadium steps slapping high fives with the fans at the Kansas State games. He would get everyone fired up. From the very beginning, Tyler had that purple blood.
Tyler: When he was talking I thought of a couple of things. I remember when I was a little kid, I sat on his lap and drove a car (laughing). I also remember growing up, my uncle and dad played against each other in a preseason game, and we flew to Tampa for it. I was with my cousins and I believe we walked into the Kansas City Chiefs locker room and got to talk to players. He was really good friends with Tony Gonzalez and Tony Richardson. I was able to talk with them. I think even Tony Richardson came to a game this year.
You guys both played for Bill Snyder. What are your favorite Coach Snyder stories?
Tyler: Being able to get to know Coach Snyder outside of football, he’s pretty much an amazing guy. He really loves his players. Really cares about us. Me being a freshman, he gave me the opportunity to do a poem in front of the team, which meant a lot to me.
You do poetry?
Tyler: It’s like a spoken word type of deal. I do spoken word on the side. I do one for the football team each year. I did one before Miami my freshman year. This year it was before the OU game.
You get that from your dad?
Kevin: No (laughing).
Tyler: Probably my uncle. My uncle used to be a rapper.
Kevin: When Tyler first enrolled, we all assumed he would redshirt. I redshirted, my brother redshirted, and Coach Snyder redshirts 98 percent of his freshmen. I got the call from Coach Snyder saying he was thinking about not redshirting Tyler. He could probably tell I didn’t agree with that. I didn’t want Tyler to waste a year. So he invited myself and my father to come watch a scrimmage to see what we thought. Of course, the scrimmage was probably scripted perfectly for this, and Tyler scored like five touchdowns. When Coach Snyder came up to the meeting room, his first comments were, ‘Well, Tyler didn’t really practice that well today.’ Then he had that grin come out. Tyler was ready to play. And it reminded me that sometimes you have to defer to people like Coach Snyder who know their business inside and out.
What does it mean to you guys when people think of Lockett, they automatically think of K-State?
Kevin: One thing a really good friend of mine, Chester McGlockton, who played with me at the Chiefs, said you need to start thinking about the legacy you want to leave. That really stuck with me. And it goes beyond my life, my career. When people hear the name Lockett, they think about Kansas State. But I always want them to think about, great student-athlete, too. That’s something I worked hard at, my brother worked hard at and certainly Tyler, which is why he’s a finalist for the Campbell Trophy [given to the player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance].
Tyler: I agree with everything he said. That’s what we want people to think of when they think of the Locketts. I started to realize being how much of a platform that really is. Being able to have the Lockett last name, it has opened doors for me to be a blessing in other people’s lives.
Kevin: Jake, what you can probably see is Tyler is 10 years ahead of where I was at 22, in all aspects of life. I think Tyler is clearly a better player than I was at 22, I think Tyler clearly found his faith before I did in life. I want everything to be better for Tyler than it was for me. And hopefully that doesn’t stop with Tyler, and the tradition carries with his younger brothers, and transitions to his kids. That’s one of the things that makes our family special.