In sports, a team is generally comprised of three types of athletes - rookies, newcomers and veterans.

Rookies are the youngsters who are new to the sport or the next level of the sport, such as a collegiate freshman, while newcomers are considered athletes who have experience, but are new to their team.

Then there are the veterans. The "old guys." The ones who have seen it all.

For a team boasting a 100-man roster - 70 of which are at sophomore status or less - Tarleton State head coach Cary Fowler doesn't have many true 'veterans' to choose from.

The ones he does, however, have definitely been around the block.

Webster's defines a veteran as "an experienced person who has been through many battles," and only a few Texans on the 2012 roster fit this description as well as sixth-year wide receiver Arthur Buckingham.

"Buck means everything to our program," said Fowler. "A lot of people don't realize that. The sad thing about it is Buck really never got a coming out party. I feel like over the course of Buck's career, he's been misused.

"That's a problem across college football." he added. "You get guys like Arthur who walk on and then you look to bring someone else in, or you push a guy up the depth chart because you recruited him."

As a walk-on, redshirt sophomore in 2009, Buck transformed into a household name amongst Texan football fans.

Tarleton was 5-1 on the season, hosting No. 18 Midwestern State and trailing 28-25 with 2:30 left in a game full of playoff implications.

On 4th-and-6 with hopes dwindling, Tarleton quarterback Scott Grantham connected with Buckingham for a 42-yard completion to keep the Texans' playoff hopes alive.

"Injuries happened that night and he finally got his opportunity," said Fowler. "Midwestern was double-covering Devin Guinn, and you had to, so that left Buck wide open. We all knew Buck would catch the ball if you threw it to him. Scott (Grantham) knew who had the most reliable hands on the team other than Devin - and that was Buck."

He wasn't done there.

With just over a minute left on 3rd-and-13, Buck hauled in an eight-yard pass to set up another fourth-down catch.

"I can still remember it like it was yesterday," said Buck. "I knew I was going to be open on the eight-yard pass. Then on fourth down, the defender lined up inside of me and the safety came down and literally told him, 'do not let this kid inside you,' which is exactly where I was going to go."

But regardless of the coverage, Buck worked his way past the defender for a 27-yard reception to set up the game-tying 36-yard field goal - which he held for kicker Garrett Lindholm.

After a muffed kickoff, Buck and Lindholm trotted back on to the field to try to win the game with a then school-record 55-yard attempt. The kick was good and the Texans pulled off the win, 31-28.

"At that point, I wasn't really thinking about much of anything," said Buck. "Lindholm hit the field goal and took off running down to the other end of the field and I spent 30 seconds chasing him down.

"Then I heard my stats during a post-game interview," he continued. "Then I started thinking, 'I could get used to this.' That's when I knew I could play at this level."

The Midwestern State game remains the only 100-yard receiving game of Buck's Tarleton career.

The Texans went on to earn a berth in the NCAA playoffs and traveled south to Kingsville for a rematch with the Javelinas - who had defeated Tarleton earlier in the season.

Buck went without a catch for most of the game, but with 20 seconds on the clock and Tarleton trailing by three it was Buck who saved the season on 4th-and-18.

"My route was suppose to be a seam up the opposite hash," said Buck. "I'm supposed to turn around and come back if the safety is still on top of me, so when I looked I saw Scott running for his life."

"I knew I couldn't take a sack," said Scott Grantham. "I rolled out of the pocked and saw a white jersey and an opening in the defense. I put everything I had into the throw and by fate, or whatever you want to call it, Buck grabbed it and saved everything."

He later held Lindholm's new school-record and NCAA Division II playoff-record 64-yard game-tying field goal to force overtime, and was blocking for Grantham when he ran in the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion in double overtime to send Tarleton to the second round.

"For Buck, the thing that makes him so successful is the fact that he is so solid," said Grantham. "He doesn't need reps. He is always the same. He has ice water in his veins."

Buck's career took a turn for the worse in the second game of 2010 when his season was cut short due to injury.

"The pass was high and a little behind me, so when I reached back for it, the defender caught up to me and I landed on my shoulder," said Buck. "I played through it and actually had a couple more catches and held a field goal, but at halftime, the doctor told me I was done for the season. I lost it.

"It was so disappointing because the 2009 season had just happened and I was finally a starter," he said.

Buck battled back and caught 10 passes for 217 yards in 2011 and is looking forward to being one of the senior leaders of the program in 2012.

"There are so many plays over the course of that kid's career that helped define this program," said Fowler. "When we played Angelo State last year, we're fighting our way back, he hauls a pass. Then we have to (prevent ASU from recovering) an onside kick and there goes Buck. Next thing you know, the game's over. There are so many opportunities with the game on the line where Buck makes play after play.

"Buck is going to make plays for us, but honestly, I don't care if he catches a pass," Fowler added. "I want him to help bridge the gap for these young kids. Bridge the gap that George (Murray) taught you about being a Tarleton Texan. Guys like George Murray, Jacob Rowe, Devin Guinn loved this program and they are all tied into this program together. I want Buck to teach these guys how to be Tarleton State Texans."

"It's been a journey," said Buck. "I fell in love with the school and the community. I'll bleed purple the rest of my life."

"Here's the greatest thing I'll say about Buck," said Fowler. "All of Buck's friends, except for one, left after I took over quit the program because of the discipline we instilled, and Buck has stayed committed to this program when he didn't have to.

"The day he walks across that field for the last time, there won't be a dry eye in the stadium from the people who know him because of the lives he's touched."