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Incoming OSU Freshman Tanner McCalister Talks Relationship with Coach Duffie, Summer Prep, and Uniforms



It won’t be too much longer before the next crop of Cowboy players start arriving on campus to prepare for the 2018 season. That will include incoming cornerback Tanner McCalister.

Tanner visited with us recently to talk about a few things, including his summer preparation, his relationship with Coach Duffie, why he chose OSU, and which uniform combination he wants to wear the most (it’s a tri-color!)

(Feel free to also go back and read our interview with fellow incoming freshman Jonathan Shepherd).

Phillip Slavin: What lead you to choose Oklahoma State?

Tanner McCalister: “I would say, one of the deciding factors was my official visit. I knew Oklahoma State was one of my top schools after my decommitment from Arkansas. So after my official visit, talking to Coach Duffie and Coach Gundy, visiting with some of the players like Thabo and A.J. Green, just talking to people that are there and living their life as an Oklahoma State football player, everything they told me was all good things. Just that official visit and talking to my parents. I love the campus, love the players. I’m familiar with some of the players like Thabo. So it just felt like a home away from home.”

PS: What kind of relationship have been able to build with Coach Duffie so far?

TM: “I really like Duffie. He’s one of the reasons I picked Oklahoma State as well. Our relationship is really good. He calls week to week to check up on me, to see how I’m doing. We talk about — I’m still in high school right now so I’m going through prom — we talk about stuff like that. He just talks to me straight up, more business talk and getting to know me, getting to know me personally. I think he’s going to be like a father figure while I’m down at Oklahoma State.”

PS: What is he having you work on before you show up to camp?

TM: “Mainly I’ve been focusing on my strength. Making sure.. you know I’m going to be playing against grown men now, so making sure my strength is there. I’ve improved on my size, I’m 192 right now, I went up like six or seven pounds. Just maintaining my same skill set like agility and speed. Doing technique work as a corner or a safety. Working on drills, keeping my speed up with speed training. But my main focus was strength and staying healthy. I’m just trying to be in the best shape I can when I get there.”

PS: You met Coach Gundy on your visit. What’s your impression of him?

TM: “He has some hidden energy. I can tell when I get up there he’ll be a pretty exciting head coach. I can tell he likes to be a kind of out-there guy. I’m looking forward to being coached by Gundy.”

PS: What are you doing to prepare yourself to make the transition to college?

TM: “Number one, I’m trying to get everything ready. For moving in, what I’m gonna take down there, who my roommates are going to be. I’m still trying to get all of that stuff together. I’ve got to do freshman orientation to figure out what classes I’m going to take. I know we’ll get a little stipend so I’ll have to learn to manage money while I’m there and make sure I don’t spend it all.”

PS: Do you know who you are going to be rooming with?

TM: “I don’t know 100 percent. But I know I’d like to be with guys like Jason Taylor or JayVeon Cardwell. I think we’ll be in four-quad dorms, and I’m sure it will go by position. But I know the other guys at my position, I really got along with them at my official visit, so I think we’ll have a good time.”

PS: What do you think you can bring to the cornerback position next season?

TM: “First and foremost I think I can bring a lot of energy and try to fit into a leadership role. I know the two corners are coming back so I’ll take a learning role behind them. I have an open mind and a lot of energy. On the field, I’m bringing a lot of physicality. I think a lot of corners don’t have that mindset to come up and make a tackle or play press-man coverage and things like that, and I think I’m bringing that to the table. I’m just looking forward to getting into action.”

PS: What are you most excited to do when you get to campus?

TM: “That’s a good question. I would say, probably just getting back to playing football. Going to organized workouts with the team, things like that. I kinda miss being with the team, having fun with your teammates, working hard to get better. Complaining about having to wake up the next morning. You know, things like that. Bonding with some new friends, new teammates.”

PS: What uniform combination — helmet, jersey, pants — are you most looking forward to wearing?

TM: “Probably … I remember on my official visit I wore the orange jersey, black (barbed wire) helmet, and white pants. But the orange jersey, the bright orange, I’m looking forward to wearing that. I feel like I stand out in that one.”

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