After a successful 1988 season we were anxious to get back at it again and getting prepared for the 89 season required each of the returners to become the 3 things mentioned above. I was ready to go as the guy who started ahead of me had graduated and the “Z “receiver spot was mine to lose…at least that’s what I thought. Coaches had a better idea as it turns out. They moved the all-everything 1st team tight end Gary Compton to Z receiver…ouch! At the Spring game we were short on the pure number of receivers and on my first catch I landed kind of funny and spent the rest of the evening in the training room getting my knee looked at while hearing my buddy Eric Turner’s (the all-everything DB and Mr. ET) name called for catching a TD in my place.
Summer comes and I did the workouts…which I never had done before…plus more. Everyone knew we weren’t going to surprise anyone this season and we had to be ready. They knew there was a storm of talent brewing there in Commerce.
Opening game we made the 13 hour drive to Mobile, Alabama to play Livingston (West Alabama) at Ladd Memorial Stadium, where the Senior Bowl was always played. Second quarter came and I finally got some time. On a 3rd and 7 I caught a 15 yard pass on the Livingston sideline for the first down. But on the play I felt a strange tingling sensation in that same knee I hurt in the spring game. The guys on their sideline were yelling “don’t get up, you know you are hurt” and other derogatory things I can’t repeat here, so I limped half way across the field were they spotted the ball and sat right beside it. I had never been hurt before. We went on to score the go ahead score led by the Bobby Bounds to Gary Compton connection and never looked back. It was the longest ride ever back to Commerce as I was trying to get comfortable on a greyhound bus with a torn ACL and big ice pack on my leg…but being 1-0 made it somewhat easier.
I was the first of many casualties during that 89 season as we took our bumps and bruises. I remember sitting in the hospital after my surgery listening to the Central Oklahoma game where we came back from a huge 4th quarter deficit with 4 tds to win 33-31. It was the unveiling of our “WeeBee” offense. It was a 4 receiver set where we would air it out and the “Marshall” Mike Meador led the charge in the comeback. We were 3-1 and poised for another epic game against the little piggies down in Kingsville. This time however, we were no match for them, falling big 48-7. No problem though after a 1 point win against West Texas State pushed us to 4-2, we were primed to finish strong but faith was not having it this year as we lost our final 4 games including 2 of them by field goals.
Gary Compton ended the year having had the best season ever by a WR in school history. I had a lot of work to do just to get back on the field. The injuries mounted throughout the season for us as I witnessed it first hand while rehabbing my knee along with my buddy Big Dean Lassiter who also tore an ACL the week after me. Dr. Bahm made a ton of money on ET that season to help pay for for that shiny little Corvette he drove to check on our M.A.S.H. unit each week. Ed and the trainers were kept busy throughout the season with tons of nagging injuries to key players week in and week out. I also got to witness love blossom as Dean ended up marrying Melissa the trainer who worked us out and took care of us during our rehab.
Even though we were only 4-6 that season we had shown flashes of excellence. Bounds and Meador had solidified the QB position and there was this freakish transfer kid who was something special to watch named Terry Bagsby. Seeing him and Kit Morton race to the QB was fun to watch. Jarrod Owens and the little RB from Daingerfield Texas named Johnnie Hurndon kept us entertained with remarkable runs while Compton had positioned himself to become the all-time leading receiver after his stellar year. At the end of the season the coaches got busy trying to find some juco and high school kids to help solidify us for the next step. We had to take our bumps and bruises though in 89 to prepare us for that very huge next step and that we did. We knew with a little luck the best was yet to come.