Can freshman Wes Lunt sustain his status as OSU's No. 1 quarterback?
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2012
5/10/12 at 5:15 AM
Related Story: Q&A with OSU football coach Mike Gundy
Within the span of nine hours on April 26, there were two significant occurrences involving Oklahoma State quarterbacks.
At noon, the university announced in a press release that 18-year-old freshman Wes Lunt had been designated as the Cowboys' No. 1 QB. That night, 28-year-old Brandon Weeden - the most prolific passer in OSU football history - was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.
"When a team loses a guy like Brandon Weeden at the quarterback spot, your concern becomes that spot. I don't care who's in line next," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "I promise you, Baylor is going to be concerned about their quarterback spot, too. Right? I think (Nick Florence, Baylor's new quarterback) is a pretty good player, but when you lose Robert Griffin, then your concern becomes, 'Where are we at without Robert Griffin?'
"We're in the same situation. Arizona is in it. (Texas A&M) may be in it. But for the most part - other than replacing a 28-year-old first-round pick at quarterback, along with the greatest receiver (Justin Blackmon) ever to play at Oklahoma State - our program is stronger than ever."
When it was revealed that the 6-foot-4, 211-pound Lunt had been positioned above junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, there was this response from Lunt: "God gave me an ability to throw the ball and I'm just so blessed to be in the situation that I am. I'm just overwhelmed."
Reaction resonated from far beyond the Stillwater city limits.
"It was top 10 worldwide (among trending topics) on Twitter that day," Gundy says. "That surprised me."
Before OSU fans storm apparel shops for the purchase of No. 11 jerseys, they should be reminded that Oklahoma State's current depth chart is written in pencil. It is subject to change.
Lunt is No. 1 today, but by Sept. 1 - when the defending Big 12 champion Cowboys open the 2012 season against Savannah State - Chelf could be the starter. Walsh could be the starter.
Entering August camp, however, the job is Lunt's to lose.
Over the course of 15 spring-practice sessions, Lunt "improved so much," Cowboy offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "He had the farthest to go, but you thought, 'If he came this far this fast, let's try not to stop that progress.' The other guys (Chelf and Walsh) played better than I thought they would.
" ... At the moment, (Lunt) is the starter and the reps will go that way, (but) if Wes doesn't play well in camp, he won't be our starter. Like any other position, you better play well or you won't be the starter. He knows that. J.W. knows that and Clint knows that."
"Just because it made out to be such a forward step, it's still not finished," Monken added. "There are guys who have a chance, over the next three months and in camp, to change who they are and how much they play - based on what they put in."
Monken is an Illinois native who played football at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. Lunt hails from Rochester, Ill., but it wasn't an Illinois tie that led to Monken's discovery of Lunt about 15 months ago.
"You're looking on the Internet and you're looking up quarterbacks," Monken recalls. "You're looking for guys that fit the profile of what you're looking for, and I watched (Lunt's) film - not knowing that I had any connection to anybody there.
"So I called there and found out that (Rochester's) coach, Derek Leonard, his dad used to come to the Knox College football camp. Automatically, there was a connection there. We (Monken and Derek Leonard) hit it off from the beginning. I went and watched (Lunt) throw live twice. By the end of spring ball (in 2011), I thought, 'I better go back and watch this guy throw again.' I liked all of the things that I saw.
"I talked to other people about (Lunt) - people who had seen him play or seen him in camps - and they all said, 'He's not a runner. That guy can really throw it.' "
In his seven years as OSU's head coach, Gundy twice has made tough quarterback decisions. In 2007, he benched returning starter Bobby Reid in favor of Zac Robinson - who went on to become the school's career leader in total offense. And then last month, there was the Chelf-Walsh-Lunt competition.
The 2010 promotion of Weeden to the starting role was an easy call for Gundy. In two seasons as the starter, Weeden broke all significant school records for passing and led OSU to a record of 23-3.
Original Print Headline: Man of the moment
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World