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Spencer Sanders, Malcolm Rodriguez, Sean Michael Flanagan and Aden Kelley
OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty and staff take pride in their student-athletes: Luke McEndoo (left), Spencer Sanders, Malcolm Rodriguez, Sean Michael Flanagan and Aden Kelley. (Photo by Andrea Vandever-Moore)

Football And Ferguson

Friday, December 17, 2021

Media Contact: Samantha Siler | Communications and Marketing Manager | 405-744-2977 | samantha.siler@okstate.edu

Excitement fills the air as the sound of rattling keys roars through Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys prepare for kickoff, determination for success written on their faces. Yet, this determination goes beyond the field.

“Success is something we strive for on and off the field,” said Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State University quarterback and junior in the Ferguson College of Agriculture. “The major you pick impacts you more than you think.”

Sanders said he values the leadership skills he has learned from the Ferguson College of Agriculture and applies them in all aspects of life.

Jarrick Bernard-Converse
Jarrick Bernard-Converse (Photo by Bruce Waterfield)

“My job on the field is to be the best leader I can be,” Sanders said. “My studies have helped me become better on and off the field.”

The life of a student-athlete is much more difficult than people realize, Sanders said.

“We have practice Tuesday through Thursday with a bunch of meetings, lifting sessions and walkthroughs in between,” Sanders said. “Then, of course, we have regular class schedules like other students.”

Sanders said he spends a lot of time watching game film in between his practice and academic schedule. Finding a routine and staying ahead is important, he added.

“We spend about 40 hours watching film and in practice combined,” said Malcolm Rodriguez, OSU linebacker and senior in the Ferguson College of Agriculture. “This does not account for the extra practice and film we do on our own time.”

Enrolling in the classes needed to complete their degree requirements is not an easy task as student-athletes because of their set practice schedules, Rodriguez said.

“Our advisers in the Ferguson College of Agriculture play a huge role in making sure athletics and academics do not overlap and we are on target to graduate,” Rodriguez said.

Even though the players have help getting their schedules organized, Rodriguez said they have to be determined for success on their own.

“Being a student-athlete is challenging, but you can avoid stress by staying organized,” said Jarrick Bernard-Converse, OSU cornerback and senior in the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

The most important aspect for student-athletes to grasp is ensuring they maintain a balance between school, sports and life, Bernard-Converse said.

“It is easy to just focus on football, but in order to succeed on and off the field, we have to get the job done academically,” Bernard-Converse said.

Getting schedules organized, building relationships with professors and working ahead of time are all things student-athletes have to do to remain successful, said Aden Kelley, OSU defensive tackle and freshman in the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

Kelley said finding his way to the Ferguson College of Agriculture was an easy choice based on how he grew up. However, not every football player in the program came from an agricultural background.

“I grew up on a small farm in western Oklahoma where my dad has a wholesale company,” Kelley said. “My goal is going back home to help run things and sell for my dad.”

Sanders spent a lot of time growing up at his mother’s ranch near Kingfisher, Oklahoma. The Ferguson College of Agriculture was an opportunity to educate him about his interests, Sanders said.

Bernard-Converse said his decision to choose the Ferguson College of Agriculture was different than the other players in the program.

“I did not come from an agricultural background,” he said. “But, I fell in love with the culture and the people in the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

“This culture is what drew me to OSU and made me want to continue my education there.”

The Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty push you to be the best version of yourself, Bernard-Converse said.

“The Ferguson College of Agriculture is full of individuals who are very knowledgeable and resourceful,” Bernard-Converse said. “They want to do their best to help you succeed. They look out for you and have your best interest at heart.”

Bernard-Converse is applying to OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine to continue his education after he graduates, he said.

The Ferguson College of Agriculture provides a family atmosphere for all of its students, even the athletes, Rodriguez said.

“Our professors get to know us inside the classroom and treat us like their own family,” Rodriguez said. “The atmosphere the Ferguson College of Agriculture provides is hard to find in other places.”


Story By: Abigail Anderson | Cowboy Journal

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