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Oklahoma State's Jimmy Bean excels in the shadows

Jimmy Bean, a three-year starter with an NFL future, brings length and athleticism to Oklahoma State's defensive line. AP Photo/Brody Schmidt

When Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury put on tape of Oklahoma State’s defense, it wasn’t easy to identify the Big 12’s leading sack master.

Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads the conference with eight sacks, was causing havoc in the opposing backfield but fellow defensive end Jimmy Bean was being just as disruptive.

"They look very similar when you throw on the film," Kingsbury said. "They have different numbers on, but you have a hard time telling which one is which because they both really get after the passer well. Most impressive is their motor, they play hard whether its run or pass, they chase the football and are relentless. I couldn’t be more impressed with what you see on tape from that guy."

Though Ogbah continues to cement his status as the favorite to be Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Bean has been just as good. The senior has 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, ranking among the conference’s leaders in each category. But he hasn’t gotten the same notoriety as his well-known teammate.

That’s exactly how he likes it. Asked how it feels to see his teammate get the headlines, Bean said he "loves it" and went on to say he wouldn’t want to see similar attention.

"I don’t like it," Bean said. "I don’t like the attention. If I had it on me, I’d be nervous and all of that. He handles it well."

Being in the shadow has become Bean’s home. He seemed like an afterthought when he signed alongside high school teammate J.W. Walsh in 2011. The Denton (Texas) Guyer products joined the program at the same time, but Walsh got the bulk of the fanfare. It’s continued during Bean's journey at Oklahoma State, with Ogbah taking Walsh’s role as the headliner while Bean quietly takes care of business in the background.

"I’ve played football with him since I was in seventh grade and the first sentence I ever heard him speak was when we were roommates freshman year of college," Walsh said. "He’s very laid-back, he doesn’t talk much and he tries to stay out of it as much as he can. He’s one of those guys that just doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like the attention, doesn’t like being in the spotlight."

Well, like it or not, more attention is heading his way.

A three-year starter with an NFL future, Bean (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) brings incredible length and athleticism to the Cowboys’ defensive line. He’s also played a key role in Ogbah’s improvement and rise. When Ogbah initially arrived at Oklahoma State in 2012, he saw Bean -- a slim sophomore who was listed at 230 pounds at the time -- and discounted him as a threat to his playing time.

"When I saw him, he was kind of slim, so I thought I could easily take his spot," Ogbah said. "Turns out, he’s a pretty good player. His speed, his work ethic and hand movement, that’s what I admire about him. I watched that in practice and learned from him."

Now Ogbah credits Bean for helping him become one of the nation’s top defenders.

"I don’t think I would be as good as I am if he wasn’t here," Ogbah said.

It’s a mutually beneficial situation. On the field, it is hard for an offense to double-team both players. Off-the-field, Bean pushes Ogbah to get better while Ogbah takes the attention Bean would rather not have.

"I’m a quiet person," Bean said. "I don’t encounter people that want to take your picture. It [the attention] has been regular. And I like it that way. I feel like those are distractions that will lead somebody off their path."

He won’t be standing in the shadows for much longer, particularly with his playmaking ways. But, for now, Bean plans to continue to be among the Big 12’s best without the attention that comes with it.

"He kind of excels not being in the spotlight," Walsh said. "Because you never see him coming."