MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Tre Walker made 47 tackles as a true freshman in 2010 and made Phil Steele's freshman All-America team. He added 52 tackles as a sophomore at Kansas State and was on track for more of the same a year ago before an ankle injury ended his season.
There have been many times in four seasons when he picked himself up off the ground and moved onto the next play as one snap blends into the next. One tackle before his sophomore year -- one not involving an opponent, but rather teammate Tyler Lockett -- stands out so many years later.
"When he was a freshman, I stuck him pretty good in a camp practice, but I was just surprised I did it because he's that elusive," Walker said. "His ability to make people miss in the open field and his ability to just outrun everybody on defense or on kickoffs is just unbelievable."
Lockett is one of the best return men in the nation, let alone the Big 12, and he's become a dangerous receiver in his junior season. Yet he might not be the most dynamic of the Wildcats at either, a reality West Virginia (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) will discover in Saturday's 3:45 p.m. game against Kansas State (2-4, 0-3).
In the Fox Sports 1 game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the Mountaineers will encounter Lockett on kickoffs and as the shallow return man on punt returns, plus punt returner Tramaine Thompson. Lockett was the preseason all-Big 12 kick returner pick while Thompson was the preseason punt returner pick.
"They're both elusive, but Tramaine is tremendously quick and Lockett has the speed," safety Ty Zimmerman said. "Those are the two hardest guys to guard on our team.
I have a lot of respect for how they go about their business, but I have a lot of respect for the guys who have to go against them."
Lockett entered the season with four kickoff return touchdowns and an average of 33.75 yards per return. He's only ranked No. 55 nationally this season, but he's only had eight opportunities to return a kickoff. He averages 22.8 yards per attempt.
Thompson doesn't have enough attempts to qualify for national rankings, but he's averaged 33.75 yards on his four returns - and 56 yards on two kickoff returns. Kansas State leads the nation in punt returns.
"You just try to get the return started and they do the rest," Zimmerman said. "We call returns to sides or whatever, but sometimes they just see something and hit it. Tramaine switches fields a lot. Lockett does the same thing. It's really about getting them started and letting them go from there."