When Dru Brown announced his transfer from Hawaii to Oklahoma State on Jan. 22, 2018, the quarterback probably didn’t imagine it would take 24 games for him to make his first start for the Cowboys.
Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders had surgery on his thumb last week after suffering an injury against Kansas, which gave Brown his first start since the 2017 season and his first start in an OSU uniform. He passed for 196 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in a 20-13 victory at West Virginia and earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for his effort.
The win over the Mountaineers broke a five-game losing streak as a starter for Brown. He hadn’t won a game as a starting QB since he led Hawaii to a 37-26 victory over San Jose State on Oct. 14, 2017.
“Today my number was called and I had to prepare like I always do and put the ball where it’s supposed to go,” Brown said after the game. “I’m excited that we got a win and we’re excited to move on to next week.”
Brown transferred to OSU ahead of the 2018 season and was redshirted behind Taylor Cornelius. Brown has always had to wait his turn, dating back to his high school days at Los Gatos High School in California. He was a backup quarterback during his junior year while playing behind a senior. Brown finally became a starter in his last year.
Brown was the backup in three of the first four games at Hawaii before getting the starting job and throwing for 5,273 yards and 37 touchdowns with a 62% completion rate in his two years starting for the Rainbow Warriors.
His decision to transfer led him to Stillwater.
“I tell people all the time I just came out here because I want to be a part of OSU and I want to win,” Brown said. “Whatever the situation is, I just want to win.”
Brown had a chance to be the starting quarterback heading into this season but was beaten out by Sanders, the Texas 2017-18 Gatorade state player of the year and Mr. Texas football coming out of high school. Brown saw limited action in a few games this season but was primarily on the sidelines on game days.
His demeanor never changed. Brown continued to prepare and practice each week, despite not winning the starting spot.
“Obviously, he didn’t get the news at the beginning of the year that he probably wanted,” offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson said. “But the way he went to work thereafter and continued to study, stay in every meeting, counsel Spencer and practice his tail off through a trying time ... if he had gone the other direction, he probably wouldn’t have been ready for this moment.”
Brown said something he always has done is “prepare like I was going to play.”
“I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve been a starter and I’ve been a backup,” he said. “The worst thing I would want to do, not only to myself but to my teammates, is be unprepared when my number is called.”
Brown will get the chance to start in one of the most important games of the Cowboys’ season when OSU hosts the Bedlam game against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Leading OSU to its third win against the Sooners in the Mike Gundy era and its first since 2014 will make OSU fans remember Brown several years after he has left Stillwater.
“Anytime you get to be remembered for anything, it’s pretty cool,” Brown said. “But like I said last week, I really just want people to remember me as a good teammate and a good leader.”