Kansas State Wide Receiver, 1992 - 1997
- 1996 First Team All-Big 12 Wide Receiver
- 1996 First Team Academic All-Big 12
- 1995 Academic All-American
- 1996 Academic All-American
- 1997 second round, 47th overall NFL draft pick, Kansas City Chiefs
- Father of Wildcat Legend & Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett, and current K-State wide receiver, Sterling Lockett
Today we’re talking to Wildcat Legend, Kevin Lockett, one of the greatest Kansas State receivers of all time. What was your experience like at Kansas State?
My experience at K State was absolutely incredible. I think the way that that community just took me, and not only me, but the rest of our family in with open arms was special. It’s the place where I grew from a young boy into a young man. I was blessed to play under what I still consider to be one of the greatest NCAA coaches ever, Bill Snyder. His guidance really helped me develop as well, both on and off the field.
That’s why I think myself and my entire family are just so appreciative of not just Kansas State, but also the Manhattan community. It’s why we've tried our best to continue to give back, and to continue to help uplift the community and the university. Because, that place just means so much to us.
What was your path to getting recruited to Kansas State? How did you end up in Manhattan, Kansas from Tulsa, Oklahoma?
Bill Snyder was probably the big difference maker, but my parents were very involved in my decision-making process. My final couple of schools were the University of Missouri, Kansas State, and then was also some consideration at Oklahoma State. When you really look at those three, Kansas State probably was the worst football program of those three at the time. But, there was a distinct difference during my visit and spending time with both the players that were on the team at that time, and spending time with Coach Snyder. You really got the sense that he had a vision to build something that was going to be very meaningful. He was really the difference maker in terms of coming to Manhattan. It turned out to be just an unbelievably great decision to attend Kansas State.
It was God's Plan in a lot of ways.
Both Bill Snyder and the Lockett’s coming to Manhattan, you know
Yeah. A lot of people always give a ton of credit to our family in terms of what we've done from a football perspective. But, I also like to say we've gotten just as much out of this relationship as people explain the football program and the community has gotten out of its relationship with our family. So, the Manhattan community is just as important to us as they claim that we are to them. It's a very beneficial relationship both ways.
Yeah, absolutely. And you were in Manhattan at an interesting time, because when you first came here, Kansas State was still part of the Big Eight before they transitioned into the Big 12. What was that particular transition of the program like?
I grew up watching the Big Eight, so the opportunity to play in the Big Eight, I think, was super exciting for me coming out of high school. Then, as things began to develop and they started having conversations about the Big 12, I thought the expansion was going to be great for the conference, but really for Kansas State. It was going to give Kansas State more visibility. Being that we had won quite a bit in the Big Eight conference my first three years, that transition going into the Big 12 my senior year was exciting for everyone in that locker room.
It was a bigger stage, and it was an opportunity for us to play some of these teams from the Southwest Conference that had also gotten a lot of attention that we had never got the opportunity to play down in Texas. We were excited from a platform and a visibility perspective, because not only had Kansas State started to rise as a football program, but we now were also starting to be able to play teams that had national recognition that were originally outside of our Big Eight conference. Our first year in the Big 12, I thought we had great success. Then, just a few years in, we find ourselves playing in the Big 12 Championship against Texas A&M. I think that expansion has really helped put Kansas State Football on the map on a national scale.
Absolutely. You can see it paying dividends to this day. Especially when there's conference realignment talk, our name doesn't get brought up too much as far as being on a chopping block.
Absolutely right. I think we're one of the pillars now of the conference. We may not have the viewership that some of the other bigger markets have, but when you talk about the actual product on the field and building a program that will have long-term success, we are always in the conversation when you talk about realignment. Especially in regard to how to make sure that we're still a part of whatever the solution ends up being.
So, we just had draft season. Everyone watched Felix Anudike-Uzomah get taken in the first round of the draft that was in Kansas City. What was it like for you in 1997 getting picked in the second round, the 47th pick by those same Kansas City Chiefs? How did that feel?
It was an exciting time! It was a time when we were just starting to put quite a bit of players from Kansas State into the NFL. To get drafted to Kansas City, which was sort of the hometown team, if you will, I thought that was exciting. It gave me a great fan base immediately, and I actually got to end up playing in one of the best-run organizations in the entire NFL. The Hunt family is absolutely incredible. That was just an unbelievable experience and dream come true. Ya know, you’re 22 years old and you're playing in the NFL! So that was a great start, I believe, for me and for my career. I’m just forever grateful for that opportunity.
Then fast forward a few years later, and of course, the decision happened to where your oldest son Tyler has to start making a path towards college. Was Kansas State just kind of a no-brainer for him when it came to recruiting?
I wouldn't say necessarily a no-brainer. I mean, I think he grew up obviously a Wildcat. His recruiting started a little bit slower than one might believe. His first offer was actually from the University of Kansas. So, his recruiting started a bit slow. Eventually, K-State came around and made an offer as well. His decisions really were coming down to K State, KU, Iowa State and a few others.
I think his familiarity with K-State, his seeing myself and his uncle (Aaron) going through K-State and seeing the success we were able to have, I think a lot of that contributed to his decision-making process. I also think the ability to play for Michael Smith at that time, who was the receiver coach, factored into that decision. It ended up being just the best place, I think, for him to be able to develop into a great player.
Then it has kind of cascaded even further down to your next son, Sterling, who's on the team and who could see the field in 2023. Was it kind of the same process for him?
Yeah, but it’s a little bit different. K-State was his first offer, and that was the offer he was waiting for. So, he had no problem committing pretty early in his recruiting process because his dream school - from his perspective - was the first school to make an offer. So, his recruiting process wasn't as long and as extensive because he had built a priority list prior to receiving any offers. And his first one came from his top school.
That's awesome. And we're so happy it did! Then you have two more sons, right?
Yeah, we do. We have two 14-year-old boys. They're twins. So far, they look like pretty decent athletes. They play football, basketball, baseball & track, and they'll be entering high school next year. Our hope is that they have a very successful high school career like Tyler & Sterling and have the opportunity to be recruited as well.
How much pride does it give you watching your boys play the sport that you love, in a position that you loved?
It’s so fun to watch. It’s fun to be able to pass on pieces of information you've learned over the years and for them to find their own success is, I think, what’s so gratifying. They do it their own way. They take pieces of what I did and pieces of what my brother did. I think the one consistency amongst everyone in our group is they seem to be really smart players who really understand the game, and I think that gives them an advantage. When I watch Tyler play, and when I watch Sterling play, they’re just really smart players out on the field, and I think that's an advantage for them.
So what are you up to these days? What is Mr. Kevin Lockett up to in 2023?
I co-founded a venture capital firm with two other partners, one of them being a K-State grad, called Fulcrum Global Capital. We make investments in early-stage innovative disruptive companies, specifically in the agriculture and the animal health sector. We’ve got about 14 companies that we have ownership of right now. We’ll build that up to about 25 or so companies and hold them for quite a while, and then hopefully sell them for quite a bit more money.
That's awesome! You just say the word venture capital and so many people are intimidated by that.
Yeah, it's an interesting space and it's one where we think that our firm can make quite a bit of difference. We’re excited about where we're at today, and we're excited about our future.
Then one last question before I let you go, I'd ask everybody this one: What is it that you miss the most about Manhattan?
I don't actually miss a ton about Manhattan because I'm there quite often! <laugh> Our family bought a home down there and we're a part of that community as well. When I do start to miss things, I make it back. But honestly, I think the biggest thing players usually miss is just the camaraderie in that locker room. I still have conversations with some of my former teammates, but I've lost track of quite a few of them. That’s probably what I miss most is just the daily relationships and conversations with those guys.
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