Toughest place to play in Big 12? Survey of football players reveals surprising answers

Looking ahead to the start of the 2019 college football season, these Big 12 star players are surveyed about their football career, what it’s like being a student-athlete and give the stories behind their jersey numbers.

For this upcoming season, where is going to be the toughest place to play on the road?

Brandon Jones, Texas: “I would say Iowa State just because their grass is super long. It’s a lot different. They do it for a reason, whatever reason, I think to mess people up. Just playing on that field is a little different.”

JaMycal Hasty, Baylor: “Every away game is pretty much the same. It’s not your home, it’s somewhere different. So they’re all pretty much about the same.”

Josh Knipfel, Iowa State: “West Virginia. The reason I say West Virginia is because when we went there last time we got beat. And I’ve never heard people sing so loudly ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver. “

Malcolm Roach, Texas: “Either TCU or Iowa State. Always going on the road playing Iowa State that’s a tough game. Just because the way the atmosphere is around there, so going out there and playing them is gonna be tough.”

Sam Tecklenburg, Baylor: “See, I like road games. I don’t think they’re tougher than a home game. I think my favorite place to play [with] the coolest environment that we have this year is Stillwater at Oklahoma State. They have a really good fan base, they got those big wooden clappers that bang on the wall, so I think that’s cool. That’s a cool tradition they have.”

T. J. Simmons, West Virginia: “Norman, Oklahoma.”

What’s the story behind your jersey number?

Brandon Jones, No. 19: “I was 18 for the longest, then when I moved up to varsity my freshman year, that was the closest number that was available to 18. So from then on I just stuck with 19.”

JaMycal Hasty, No. 6: “Growing up I was number three, when I reached high school seniors got to pick first, so I got 33. I just got two three instead of one. And then I finally got three my senior year, and when I got to Baylor somebody had three but nobody had six. So if you just add three and three it’s six.”

Josh Knipfel, No. 66: “My brother was 68 in high school and in middle school. So I was just like, I don’t want to be 68, I want to live out of my brother’s shoes. So I just picked the next even number below it so I picked 66.”

Malcolm Roach, No. 32: “When I got up here, Coach [Charlie] Strong he told me I was gonna be number one, and then went I went to my locker it was number 32 … yeah they just gave me 32.”

Sam Tecklenburg, No. 52: “I kinda like even numbers. Just something that doesn’t look weird. In high school I was 82 because of Jason Witten, here i started was number 88 just cause it’s even. Then I was considering 35 or 52 and something just told me 52.”

T.J. Simmons, No. 1: “That was my first ever football number. My dad chose it for me. I started playing football when I was five, and my dad picked out my number and he said ‘this is the number you gotta wear.’ So I wore that number all the way up until middle school ... somebody had number one on my team so I couldn’t get it. I haven’t been able to get it all the way up until I came to West Virginia.

What’s your favorite memory of you entire football playing career?

Brandon Jones: “Probably my sophomore year I got a … 95 yard interception or something against Lufkin, which is our all-time rival. I think we had beat them for the first time in 20 years so that stuck in my head.”

JaMycal Hasty: “Probably something that happened in little league, I can’t remember what but I had a fun time playing little league, so.”

Josh Knipfel: “I was in sixth grade, it was youth football ... my coach at the time, he put me at tight end on the last game of sixth grade year and I basically just ran straight down the field and a teammate threw it up to me and I caught it and I scored a touchdown. Only time I’ve ever scored a touchdown. Only time I ever caught the ball. And so that’s kinda been my moment.”

Malcolm Roach: “When I scored my first touchdown ever. I ain’t scored my first touchdown until I got to high school. But yeah when I scored my first touchdown in high school, my 10th grade year, it was like a 70 yarder, I caught a pass and ran with it.”

Sam Tecklenburg: “Winning the bowl games, we’ve won three since I’ve been here, those are probably it. It’s not too many times you can end your season on a win [and] be proud of that usually. It either ends in a loss if it’s not that. Winning the three bowl games has been good.”

T.J. Simmons: “Probably winning the state championship my junior year [of high school].”

What’s the hardest part about being a student-athlete?

Brandon Jones: “Just the time and effort just to balance both. Our days are super long. Range from anywhere from 5am to 10pm at night. So just being able to find that balance of having the time during the season. You wanna make sure you watch film and get extra work in, then that kind of gets in the way of homework or anything else you gotta do school-wise, so yeah, the hardest thing is just finding that balance.”

JaMycal Hasty: “You’re just busy all day. It’s not even hard. It’s just what comes with it. Probably just being up [and] active all day.”

Josh Knipfel: “I would just say the hours. You wake up, depending on when you start class, [you have] mandatory breakfast. Mandatory breakfast then you go to class. Class you have tutoring. Tutoring you probably have another class. Then after that you gotta watch film sometime in between there, and after that you go to meetings and get taped up and get ready for practice then you have more meetings then you have another practice. Then you get out of practice then you have supper you probably have tutoring, you probably have homework ... just the schedule itself is the hardest part.”

Malcolm Roach: “People think about the school work and stuff like that, but just being able to find time for yourself. Being able to just chill out and relax you know, have fun … just finding time for yourself is always big.”

Sam Tecklenburg: “Just time to do homework and projects. I try to do a lot in the off season to make the fall easier because I want to be able to spend my entire day at football. It’s hard to be good at both. We got some really good student athletes on our team and they’d probably say the same thing, just managing time to get your work done.”

T. J. Simmons: “The time. You have time, you have workout sets, you have school, you have classes and stuff like that, and it’s just like … you have to find time for yourself. You have to find time to be able to perfect your craft and also get your schoolwork done.”

If you had to choose another career other than football, what would you choose?

Brandon Jones: “Probably be either a high school head coach or a fitness trainer.”

JaMycal Hasty: “Real estate for sure. Because people always need somewhere to lay their head so I just feel like there’s a way that I could make money and take care of the people I need to take care of.”

Josh Knipfel: “I wanna be an athletic director. That’s kinda what I wanna do, it’s what I think it’d be a lot fun to be around … still kind of around the teaching aspect of being around kids and still being around sports. Because I love football but I love every other sport.”

Malcolm Roach: “I would be a lawyer. Because I like to fight for people who don’t have the chance to fight for themselves. So just being a lawyer and helping people out, especially if I believe they’re right in a situation. That’s why I always wanted to be a lawyer.”

Sam Tecklenburg: “Honestly I’m still trying to figure it out. Probably something like where I could draw or design stuff. If I spent the time I spent on football on that stuff, then I think I’d be a lot better and really good.

T.J. Simmons: “Well my career I want in the future, I want to be a real estate agent. So if I wasn’t playing football right now, I’d probably be either trying to get into real estate now and trying to invest in real estate now, or studying it. Just trying to get into it.”

Some quotes have been shortened for readability.

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