In the cramped end zone of T. Boone Pickens Stadium on Halloween, Texas Longhorns junior cornerback D’Shawn Jamison held one finger in front of his facemask, requesting some quiet from a stunned home crowd.
He’d already discarded the football he’d just carried 100 yards for a kickoff return touchdown and he’d out-raced his teammates by such a distance that they were still arriving to celebrate with him.
For a Longhorns team that ended the upset victory over the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys in overtime with a three-percent win expectancy, the lowest of a winning team during the 2020 season, Jamison’s return midway through the third quarter spurred the comeback victory.
Oklahoma State had just capped a 10-play, 72-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to star wide receiver Tylan Wallace to take a 31-20 lead and push the home team’s win probability to 84.1 percent.
Then Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy made a mistake that helped change the game — he decided to kick to Jamison. With only 10 touchbacks on 33 kickoffs between two players, Oklahoma State either doesn’t have the ability or the willingness to consistently put the ball deep in the end zone this season. Earlier in the game, Gundy opted to kick to Texas sophomore running back Roschon Johnson on the other side of the field, but he’d also kicked to Jamison twice, a dangerous proposition that had to that point worked in Gundy’s favor.
After some dangerous returns this season by Jamison, including a 96-yarder against TCU called back by penalty, most teams have opted to kick through the end zone and avoid the possibility of a long return by the Texas junior cornerback.
On Saturday, Jamison showed why.
Jamison initially mishandled the catch at the goal line, perhaps throwing off the timing of the Oklahoma State coverage unit — by the time that Jamison approached the Texas 10-yard line, eight of the 11 opposing players were already at or inside the 20-yard line. To spring Jamison, Johnson made just enough contact as a lead blocker to wall off one Cowboys player, leaving only one player and the kicker left as a lane opened for Jamison between the numbers and the hash marks.
With a stutter step, Jamison left that Oklahoma State player trying to tackle air and then it was off to the races by the time he crossed the 15-yard line with only the kicker to beat. A cut outside back towards the sideline was enough to end any hope that Alex Hale had of bringing down Jamison.
And so, over the course of 20 seconds, Texas wrested momentum away from Oklahoma State and then finished strong, out-scoring the Pokes 15-3 over the remainder of the game and coming away with the upset win, the first road victory for the Longhorns over a top-10 opponent since beating Nebraska in 2010.
Jamison’s effort was the fifth 100-yard kickoff return in school history and the first since DJ Monroe’s return against Oklahoma State in 2012. The Houston Lamar product now has three touchdowns in the return game (two kickoff, one punt), putting him in second place in school history and one behind Jordan Shipley.
Speaking of Shipley, Jamison’s return against Oklahoma State was perhaps the most impactful kickoff return touchdown for Texas since Shipley’s effort early in the 2008 classic against Oklahoma. And Jamison still has at least a year and a half to tie or break Shipley’s record and cement his place as the most productive return man in Longhorns history.
If opponents keep taking the risk of kicking to him in an effort win a few yards of field position, it seems like there’s little doubt that Jamison will match or surpass Shipley.