LaColtan Bester's waiting pays off
Junior college star was offered scholarship after OU suspended three wideouts
LaColtan Bester waited.
The junior college receiver from East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss., wanted to play college football at a big-time program. At the beginning of May, well after the juco national signing day in December, Bester wasn't satisfied with the few offers he had. So he waited to see if other schools would come knocking.
Then Oklahoma reached out. Receivers coach Jay Norvell, who had suspended three of his wideouts that month, offered Bester a scholarship and wanted him to take a visit to Norman, Okla. That was all it took. For Bester, good things truly do come to those who wait.
Bester, who is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and was officially cleared to play this season for the Sooners last week, was among the best junior college receivers in 2011. But there were some academic concerns that scared a few schools off. Bester spent the spring clearing up those issues.
"He is an exceptional athlete but needed a little guidance," said East Mississippi coach Buddy Stephens. "There is a charisma factor about this kid, though. He is the best athlete to come out of his county in a long time."
Bester hails from De Kalb, Miss., a town with a population of less than 1,000, according to the 2000 census. So when you have a talent like Bester, he doesn't play the position that helps him succeed. He plays the position you need him to play. Bester spent his entire high school career at quarterback because his team needed him to touch the ball on every play.
Based on pure athletic ability, he was able to earn all-state honors at quarterback. But he slipped through the cracks as no major programs looked in his direction.
A three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball, Bester never got discouraged. He had a feeling football was his calling card and stuck with it.
Stephens saw an athlete who was too good and in his own backyard so he didn't hesitate in giving him a chance, even if quarterback wasn't going to be his position when everything was all said and done.
"It makes sense for him to play that at the high school level, but when we got him here, we realized a position change was needed," Stephens said. "He doesn't have a lot of touch. He is like Shrek throwing a football."
Bester is certainly no Shrek when catching and running with the football, though. But it did take a situation out of his control to get OU receivers coach Jay Norvell to look his way.
The indefinite suspensions of receivers Kameel Jackson, Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds were major blows to OU's depth at the position. It forced Norvell to get back out on the search for wideouts who could make an immediate impact.
And that gave Bester the opportunity he was looking for.
Bester said before OU entered the picture, the two schools he was looking at the hardest were Ole Miss and UTEP. There were also a few small schools in Florida that showed interest.
"I was shocked, in a good way (when Norvell reached out). Everybody knows OU," Bester said. "When I was telling my friends some of the schools who were looking at me, not everybody knew some of them. When I said OU, they all knew."
Bester admits he was pretty much sold on OU from his first conversation with Norvell. He tried to play it cool, but deep down, he knew he would be a Sooner and made it official on a visit May 20.
OU did its homework on Bester, Stephens said. The Sooners coaches made sure they were getting a high-character kid, and Stephens guaranteed the staff they will have no problems when he steps foot on campus.
Bester is determined to make an early impact for OU in 2012.
"Coming from a smaller school was a reason I don't feel I got some of the opportunities," Bester said. "After everything I've done and how hard I've worked to get here, nothing is going to stop me now.
"Coach Norvell is a cool guy. I know he's going to work me harder than I've ever done before, but I know we're going to click just fine."