Coger left impression in brief time with Cowboys
Oklahoma State players fondly recall junior college transfer who died in July
In only a brief amount of time with Oklahoma State, Tyrek Coger left many memories behind.
Coger, who had transferred from a junior college and planned to play for the Cowboys this season, died July 21, less than three weeks after arriving in Stillwater. He was 22.
“I think everybody, when it comes to Tyrek, thinks of his personality — how fun he was to be around as a person,” Cowboys senior Phil Forte III said earlier this month before the team left the Mainland for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. “He always had a great attitude every single day.”
Coger died after a team workout. He had an enlarged heart and died of natural causes, the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office said in October.
Coger, whose brother Rodney Purvis plays for Connecticut, the team Oklahoma State beat on Monday, had spent one season at Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina after first playing collegiately at Eastern Florida State.
“He joined the team and it was like he had been there as long as we’ve been there,” said sophomore Jawun Evans.
“He always had a joke for me and stuff like that.”
Coger’s death added to a list of tragedies that have put Oklahoma State in the unwanted position of being experienced with how to cope.
In 2001, a plane crash near Denver after a men’s basketball game against Colorado took the lives of two players, Dan Lawson Jr. and Nate Fleming, as well as six staffers and broadcasters, the pilot and the co-pilot. In 2011, women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna died in a plane crash in Arkansas while on a recruiting trip. Former Oklahoma state Sen. Olin Branstetter, who was piloting the plane, was also killed, as was his wife, Paula.
“Oklahoma State has been — I don’t know if there’s an adjective that describes how good they have been, how supportive,” said coach Brad Underwood. “Unfortunately, that does come from some experience. Our fan base, our school, our administration, it’s quality people.”
Coger, a 6-foot-9 forward and nationally ranked junior college prospect, was among the first players recruited to the Cowboys by Underwood, who was hired in March.
“He had tremendous charisma, tremendous personality, and it was very contagious,” Underwood said. “When he walked into a room, people paid attention.”
Coger’s locker has been left intact, and the Cowboys have opened a season during which he will often be on their minds with four straight wins.
“He’d want us to go out there and try to compete hard,” Forte said, “and try to have the best season.”
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com.