OSU names freshman Wes Lunt as starting QB
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, April 27, 2012
4/27/12 at 4:01 AM
Related story: John Klein: Gundy makes an extreme decision on Lunt.
When interviewed in February, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken did not seem to view Wes Lunt as an immediate option at quarterback.
"I'll be stunned if he's our starter," Monken said. "... But there was no reason to bring Wes in and miss his senior year (of high school) if we weren't going to give him a chance to compete."
On Thursday, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy announced that he has given the No. 1 quarterback designation to Lunt, a first-year freshman from Rochester, Ill.
After leading his high school team to consecutive state championships, Lunt enrolled at Oklahoma State in January. During the spring-practice period, which concluded with last Saturday's scrimmage at Boone Pickens Stadium, the 6-foot-4, 211-pound Lunt competed against returning Cowboy quarterbacks Clint Chelf (a junior) and J.W. Walsh (a redshirt freshman).
During the spring game, Lunt was 15-of-23 passing for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Gundy says he wanted to identify a No. 1 quarterback now so that there would be a clearly defined offensive leader during voluntary summer workouts. The quarterback competition resumes during preseason camp in August.
In 2011, 28-year-old Brandon Weeden quarterbacked the Cowboys to the Big 12 championship. Lunt is 18.
After discussing the quarterback situation with Monken, Gundy announced his decision in a university new release. Gundy was quoted as saying, "We had to make a decision based on what we thought was best for our offense to score points and then give us the best chance to win football games. All three (quarterbacks) had good springs, but at some point, the decision is made on the field. Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring."
Lunt also was quoted in the news release: "I'm overwhelmed. It's such a humbling experience. Coming in early, I knew I had a chance to compete for the job and to get it is just overwhelming. I know that we're still going to compete through summer and two-a-days, so it's not over."
"I'm a drop-back passer a lot like Brandon Weeden," Lunt added. "I'm not going to kill you with my legs. I'm a passer."
OSU hasn't had a first-year freshman quarterback starter since 1993, when Tone Jones - who had been a star at Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School - started for the Pat Jones-coached Cowboys. OSU's 2012 season begins on Sept. 1, when Savannah State visits Stillwater.
Recruited also by Illinois, Boston College, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Louisville, Lunt announced his Cowboy commitment in June, after an unofficial visit to the OSU campus.
During Weeden's NFL draft watch party in Edmond on Thursday night, the former Cowboy QB reacted to OSU's Lunt decision.
"He's a smart kid. You can tell that by talking to him," Weeden said. "He's getting ready to take on one of the biggest things of his life. ... What coach Gundy likes now is a guy who can sit back and throw it.
"The kid is big with a big arm. This offense fits him well. But it's tough; he's still supposed to be in high school. I think the expectations (should not) be through the roof. There will be some aches and pains ... but the kid can play. Monken has always said good things about him."
During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Lunt passed for a combined total of more than 6,100 yards while leading the Rochester Rockets to a pair of Illinois Class 4A state titles.
During OSU's spring-practice period, it became apparent that Lunt was the most complete passer in the program.
"He's tall, he's very mature, he's got good arm strength - not great arm strength yet, obviously he's still a high school player - but there's a lot of development there," Gundy said. "We like his maturity and we like where he's at in our offense, essentially still being a high school player."
More from Gundy on Lunt: "He has a good demeanor. He has a good knowledge of the game. He makes mistakes - Brandon Weeden made mistakes in his first year even though he was a more mature player - but some players have a calm demeanor and are able to execute better than others in critical situations and he showed signs of that. He has a lot of work ahead of him, but we feel like he has a very bright future."
While Lunt was quoted in a university news release, Gundy's media policy dictates that first-year Cowboy players are not made available for media interviews.
In the news release, Lunt indicated that OSU's spread offense was a prominent reason that he signed with the Cowboys.
"God gave me an ability to throw the ball and I'm just so blessed to be in the situation that I am," Lunt said. "I'm just overwhelmed."
Last week, Monken said Lunt has been impressive not only in the way he passes the football, but in the way he has learned the offense and handles criticism.
"That was probably the most impressive of anything - me dog-cussing the crap out of him ... and he was able to function without basically just going in the tank and quitting," Monken said. "... His body language doesn't change. It's so similar to (Weeden) in that regard. When (Lunt) gets excited, you hardly even know it. That's probably the most impressive thing."
Over the course of 15 spring-practice sessions, Monken said, "it got to the point where, 'All right, it doesn't always come out exactly the way you like, but (Lunt) is an accurate son of a gun now. That ball's on the money.' And he's got a calm demeanor about him. ... By the middle of the spring, there was a possibility that he could be our starter."
Original Print Headline: OSU tabs freshman QB Lunt as starter
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Wes Lunt: The freshman enrolled at OSU in January. On Thursday, he was named the Cowboys' starting quarterback