What are Trace’s strengths as a football player?
Bill Messamore: I could talk about Trace all day. He started for me for four years, and in those four years we were 40-6, including winning the state championship in 2009. He is one of those rare athletes who is not only a great athlete but he played every single down in high school like it was his last down, and he practiced that way too. I think if you’re a coach, that’s probably as big of a compliment that you can give anybody. He has all the great athletic ability. His dad played in the NFL, his brother played at Oregon, and he’s got two sisters that are Division I athletes. One thing that I’ve always respected about Trace was that he gave you all the effort he could give you every single play, and we played him all the time. We’re a small school so he played special teams, offense and defense, and he never took a play off. That’s the thing about him that’s going to make him special at Oklahoma State is no one is going to outwork him. That’ll be in the weight room, that’ll be in the classroom, and that’ll be on the football field. The other thing about Trace is a 4.0 student at a school that is known for its college prep courses. He’s very quiet. In fact if he one negative trait it’s that sometimes he’s so quiet that he wasn’t that vocal leader that we wanted him to be. He’s just a great guy.
What do you think will be the biggest transition for him moving from playing in high school to the Big 12 Conference?
Bill Messamore: I think the competition is going to be different as far his strength and size of the players he’ll go against. He’s still pretty young and he’s going to be playing against men. I don’t think that’s going to surprise him because unlike a lot of kids he’s got a lot of background that other kids don’t have. His dad was his mentor and coach for his whole life, his brother played at Oregon ... I think he will find out where he’s been used to getting by on his physical ability now he’s going to have to work on his technique, and I’m sure he will.
Do you think he has a chance to make an instant impact or will there be an adjustment period for him?
Bill Messamore: He’s a big, strong guy right now, but he can be stronger. You can see with his frame that they can put a lot more weight on him if they want to. I think he can play if he needed to as a freshman, but you’ve got to hope that in a program like Oklahoma State he’ll get whatever time he needs to develop. In my conversations with (OSU defensive coordinator) Bill Young, he’s indicated that just because of numbers Trace may be a chance to play as a freshman.
Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Bill Messamore: I think there are several reasons. He had lots of good choices. It came down to schools that had an engineering program. It was not just football that made the decision. In fact, academics was a very big key. At the end, his list was Stanford, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Iowa, those four schools all had one in common and that was they had real good engineering programs. The fact that Oklahoma State has a good engineering program and the fact that it’s a relatively short drive for his parents (from Wichita). All three of his siblings are either in Arkansas or Oregon, so it was tough (for his parents) to get to see them play. I think that had something to do with it.
What do you think he is capable of accomplishing over the course of his college career at OSU?
Bill Messamore: I think the sky is the limit, as far as his work ethic and his athletic ability. He just seems to get bigger every day. I don’t want to put any pressure on him because it’s pressure enough going into a great program like Oklahoma State, but I really do believe that he’s going to be very successful. I don’t know if he’ll get a chance to play in the NFL like his dad did, but he realizes that his dreams are to get a good education and he’d like to continue his football after Oklahoma State. One thing I do know is that he’s going to be successful in whatever he does because he’s just built that way.
What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Bill Messamore: I will remember that it didn’t matter what the score, it didn’t matter what the game was, he played every down like it was his last down. It was all-out effort. You can see on his film many times when he’s a tackle (on offense) he’ll be making a block 30 yards down the field, when he’s a defensive end he’ll be making a play clear across the field because he won’t give up. He never gives up on a play and that’s probably the biggest thing I’ll remember.