Comparing the Careers of James Washington and Tylan Wallace

Through two seasons in Stillwater, I’m not sure Tylan Wallace has been better than James Washington, but the fact that it’s a debate is pretty amazing.

In his first season with the Pokes, No. 28 played on that lousy 2014 team that afforded him the opportunity to run around and develop away from the spotlight. He posted a superior freshman season to Wallace’s freshman season, but then in 2015 things got real in a hurry. OSU started 10-0, and Washington was tops on a laugh-out-loud receiving corps. Look at how many pros are on this list!

For Wallace it went a little bit the other way. His freshman year team was loaded, and Kasey Dunn recently said he only played because they recognized the talent but that it probably hurt his development that he had so many freaks ahead of him.

Then last year he was on a 6-6 team (like Washington in 2014) and he took off, posting better single-year numbers than anything Washington did until his senior season. Add it all up, and here’s where they are after two full years at OSU.

After Year 2 Wallace Washington
Catches 93 81
Yards 1609 1543
YPC 17.3 19.0
TD 12 16

Wallace actually has more yards through 18 games than Washington had in 25, which is wild when you think about how good Washington was so early on.

Dunn was recently ask to compare the two, and he was candid about their strengths.

“Tylan is a better route-runner,” said Dunn. “He’s got equal ball skill. That includes downfield. James just had this explosiveness, power that was unmatched. He was so strong to the ball.

“Tylan is a better route runner. James was better down the field making that longer ball play. Tylan makes some great ones down the field too. James just had this ability because he weighed 220 to hold his line and outmuscle a guy for it. Tylan is more finesse down the field.”

What’s going to be interesting, Dunn noted, is how he responds to being The Guy. It’s one thing to post 1,500 yards when you’re an unknown playing for an afterthought of a contender in the Big 12 race. What about when you’re the man on a team trying to contend from the jump?

“One thing I told him — and I’m sharing this with you — this is a ‘prove it’ year for him,” said Dunn. “That’s the mantra we’re using right now with him. ‘Hey, back it up from last year.’ Everybody says, ‘Was it a fluke? How was that last year? What’s going on? You came out of nowhere.’ At the end of the day, ‘Let’s prove it, let’s back it up.’

He’s got the skill set to do it. I’m not so concerned about that. I want him to have a little bit of chip on his shoulder to back up a year like last year. Getting 1,500 yards, that’s not easy. It’s hard to do and certainly it’s hard to back up.”

It’s something Washington did after both his sophomore and junior seasons. His numbers continued to get better as he continued to learn the game. It’s maybe the most impressive part of his amazing career.

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I think Wallace gets there, too, but it will be tough with a new QB1 and all the attention. And like Dunn said, it’s not like it’s going to prove itself.

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