Kansas State came to Lawrence ranked No. 13. They would finish the regular season 9-2. Kansas would finish only 4-7 and would lose the November game to the Wildcats 38-12. Yet, I will always remember that game for reasons far beyond the score or records.
Kansas State receiver Kevin Lockett and Kansas receiver Isaac Byrd were supremely amazing athletes. Lockett led the Big 8 in receptions and receiving yardage in 1996. Lockett was not a big receiver, but he was a master of the receiving craft. Byrd was a tall, lanky receiver that could leap for receptions before it became the norm in college and professional football. Perhaps that ability could be traced to the baseball skills he developed playing centerfield for the KU baseball team. Both went on to play in the NFL for years.
In the 1996 game between the two teams, Lockett caught 11 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Byrd did all he could to match Lockett by catching nine passes for 178 yards. For much of the game, All-American cornerback Chris Canty covered Byrd.
There was an electricity about the game I know I felt. I rank that game as one of my finest as a football photographer. I would love to be able to say the same thing after Saturday’s game in Lawrence between the Jayhawks and Wildcats.