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After ‘A Lot Of Growing Pains,’ Flowers Having Fun Before Senior Season



Tre Flowers has always been one for comfort. On the field, he glides around seemingly without any effort at all. Even when he makes diving plays to break up passes and slides head-first on the turf, his game is tidy and straightforward. At media availabilities during the season, most players show up in nice attire. Collared shirts. Kept hair. Proper bottoms. Flowers shows up almost every time in sweats or gym shorts before grabbing a collared shirt at the last minute. And Jordans are a necessity. If he isn’t wearing a hat, his bed head is splaying out.

It all appears to be so simple and enjoyable for the senior safety, but it hasn’t always been like that.

In November 2015, Flowers’ dad, Rodney, was in a motorcycle accident that almost killed him, first reported by Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. Rodney obliterated his pelvis, broke his right leg and right ankle, dislocated his shoulder and had internal injuries to his rectal bladder and abdomen, according to the report. It was bad. In an interview with Oklahoma State athletics, Tre had to compose himself a couple of times when talking about it.

The Cowboys were 10-0 and hours away from playing then 8-1 Baylor at Boone Pickens Stadium. Flowers told OSU he thought that team was going to the national championship. Next thing he knew, he was on a private jet back to San Antonio to see his dad. The Cowboys lost that game to Baylor 45-35 after Flowers returned, but then they lost in Bedlam and then again in the Sugar Bowl to Ol’ Miss.

Then came this past season, when he played with a seasoned group of guys in the secondary, including one of his greatest teachers, mentors and influences, Jordan Sterns. Together, Flowers and Sterns accounted for 162 tackles and 12 pass break-ups. They paired with cornerbacks Ashton Lampkin and Ramon Richards, who started every game together in 2016. In a lot of ways, that was the closest group of guys on the field.

It’s not the same anymore. Sterns and Lampkin are gone. Richards has moved back to play safety with Flowers. And a bunch of little-known corners are expected to receive serious playing time. All of that is arbitrary for Flowers though. This is his senior season. His last shot at pushing the Cowboys from good to great.

“It’s a little emotional. It’s gonna be different,” Flowers said. “It’s gonna be a show. It’s gonna be fun.”

With Richards, it’s almost impossible to not have fun. He is the guy who comes to practice freestyle rapping, starts trashketball games and tweets about things like this:

Richards and Flowers were forced to start as freshmen (Flowers as a redshirt and Richards as a true freshman), so it’s only fitting that they play alongside each other at safety as seniors. Richards said it’s never easy to lose guys like Sterns, but playing with Flowers is still a constant reminder of the situation they’re in.

“At the end of the day, it’s just a game,” Richards said. “There’s nothing to stress about. There’s nothing to sit here and hurt about. It’s all a game at the end of the day, and it’s never bigger than us.”

Flowers said that laid back mindset he shares with Richards share comes from his parents. When he was growing up in Converse, Texas, Flowers’ mom and dad were always the cool parents. They let him make his own mistakes and learn from them. That was nice when things were going well, but when they weren’t, he said there were “a lot of growing pains.”

Flowers signed with the Cowboys Feb. 6, 2013, as a three-star safety holding offers from Arizona State, Kansas State and nine other schools. When he got to Stillwater, those growing pains amplified. Starting as a redshirt freshman and sophomore was particularly what stuck out as a point of real pain in his career.

“I just felt like my confidence was at an all-time low,” Flowers said.

Then-redshirt senior Larry Stephens was injured, so Flowers started six games and played in 12 as a redshirt freshman in 2014. He was 18 years old.

“Playing against big names, I let the names get to me,” he said. “I didn’t believe in myself a lot.”

That season, Flowers made 56 tackles, which was sixth-best on the team. He had seven games of at least five tackles. And he also added three pass break-ups. He didn’t play too poorly, especially for a freshman. Redshirt or not, those are good numbers. But that wasn’t what Flowers saw. He saw the negatives.

That next season was still tough. There were times when he doubted his abilities, but he started every game. He had 83 tackles, which was fourth-best on the team. A pair of interceptions. Seven pass break-ups, which led the team. Three and a half tackles for loss.

Something just wasn’t right.

“Felt like I didn’t belong,” Flowers said.

The people around him got him out of that, he said. His parents, Sterns, Richards and others in his recruiting class helped him see the positives. Richards said Flowers is the one of the most underrated players he has known since he started playing football. His defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said Flowers has turned into one of the best leaders on the team.

“He’s a stud. He really is,” Spencer said with a laugh. “He makes some unbelievable plays for us. He’s long. He’s physical. If he keeps doing what he’s doing now, if he stays locked in with the maturity and the experience, I expect him to have a tremendous year.”

It used to not be that way. Flowers was a good, solid piece to an already established secondary when he was a freshman. He has always been long with lanky arms on a 6-foot-3 body, but “physical” was definitely not one way to describe Flowers when he got to Stillwater for the first time. Spencer laughed again and said he remembers his first impression of him.

“When he came in here, he had to run around the shower to get wet, he was so skinny,” Spencer said. “I knew he needed to get in the weight room and eat.”

He saw the buck-80 safety as a bit of a project. The length was always there, he said, but he wanted to know what he’d look like in three years.

Three years later, Flowers is the one hosting recruits, showing them the ropes and letting them know what OSU is all about. Former Clemson cornerback Adrian Baker, a recent graduate transfer commit, was led by Flowers on his visit.

“He showed me around and told me what it was like,” Baker said in an interview with Triple Play Sports. “Everybody like family.”

Now a senior, Flowers said everything he is going through is, “extremely fun.” There are more leaders on the team than ever before, he said. Before, he felt like it was just a bunch of young guys trying to lead while doing everything they could to not make mistakes, he said. They wanted to be themselves though, he said, so it was a balancing act.

“Now we’ve figured out how to do that,” Flowers said.


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