“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” That’s the advice that Tress Way is taking from his mother as he prepares for his last game as a Sooner. A four-year starter, Way has been a strength in the punting game for the Sooners throughout his entire career, and will go down as the one of the best in school history at his position.
His debut came during the opening game of the 2009 season against BYU inside Cowboys Stadium. With a returning Heisman trophy winner at quarterback in Sam
Bradford, Way admits he didn’t expect to see much action that day. But after a three-and-out on the first drive, Way was called upon from the shadow of his own endzone.
“I wasn’t expecting to punt until like the second quarter,” said Way. “I remember running on the field thinking, there’s no turning back now, I have to punt this ball. My little brother Cole, and my mom, my dad, and my grandpa were in the stands right behind where I was punting. The ball was at the 14 yard line because he had a penalty, and I was standing on the goal line for my first punt ever. I remember turning around to look at my family and I threw up hands up and said, well this is it. That first feeling of running out, I was so nervous, and then I remember coming off to Ben (Habern) and Landry (Jones) and some of my friends that hadn’t been on the field yet and going, man it’s not that bad, it’s ok, and it’s fun.”
With the Sooners down 14-13 with 1:45 in the fourth quarter at the BYU 37-yard line, Way came in for a potential game-winning 54 yard field goal. He missed the kick, and the Sooners went on to lose the season opener. The next day, made seven of eight from the exact same spot.
“I was so mad I could barely see straight,” said Way. “I’m a really competitive guy, so I was sitting in my locker after we got done talking, and I didn’t get undressed for a while. Demarco (Murray) came up to me and said, Man, that’s not on you, that’s on us. We put you in that situation and we need you later in the season so keep your head up. Nobody knew who I was, and it was cool to have a guy like Demarco Murray come up and say that.”
That year, Way played a huge role in the special teams game. He saw time at kicker during a three-game span, and was the team’s starting punter. When the Sooners traveled to Lincoln for a game against Nebraska, Way was named the starter at kicker. The Sooners went on to lose the game 10-3, and Way was 1-4 on the night, missing from 46, 45, and 42. He still remembers that game well, and how Jones comforted him after the game.
“I went up and apologized to him after the game, and Landry is 6’5, he just threw his arm on my shoulder and said, T, it’s alright man, we’re going to be alright.”
Way ended his freshman season with a 45.7 that led the Big 12 and was No. 3 nationally. He was a key player in the Sooners 27-0 win over Oklahoma State, and set a program record in the game with a punting average of 58.8 yards.
After a promising freshman year, Way certainly didn’t disappoint. Throughout the course of his career, he’s been as good as anyone that’s ever came through the program. He earned All-Big 12 honorable mention during his sophomore season, and finished the year with a 44.0 yard average. His career-long 85-yard punt came in the opening game of the season against Utah State.
Way once again earned All-Big 12 Honorable mention as a junior, and finished the year with a 42.0 yard average. 34 of his 63 punts landed inside the 20-yard line, and had only six touchbacks on the year. His season long 67 yard punt in the Insight Bowl, tied for the longest in the game’s history.
This season, Way averaged 43.6 yards a punt, and ranks No.1 in OU history with a 43.8 career yard average. He was once again named All-Big 12 honorable mention for a third-straight year. As he prepares for his last game as a Sooner, he says he feels regaled, and is not pressing at all.
“This is my last game that I will get to play for OU, and it’s in a huge bowl game, and it’s one of the most anticipated games around the country in the bowl season. I’m just really thankful and really relaxed. I’m just ready to go have fun, take it all in, and most importantly, win.”
The special teams unit for the Sooners was exceptional this season, and might possibly be one of the best unit’s in the country. Way said there’s a ton of pride being in such a productive special teams unit.
“It was really cool because we had our football team banquet last week, and usually you have one-or-two special teams’ player of the year. But this year, we had eight special teams’ players of the year because you can’t pinpoint one over the other. We’ve affected games so much, and being a part of that, I take a lot of pride in that.”
Way will end his career with several records, accolades and achievements. If there’s one word to describe his career at Oklahoma, it’s “Consistent.”