For the first time in nearly two decades — or ever — Oklahoma State will (probably) head into a season opener with a true freshman under center.
Following a one-day “delay”, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy announced Thursday that 2012 recruit Wes Lunt has been named as his starting quarterback. The early enrollee received the news from offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who informed the freshman this morning that he had officially been handed the reins of OSU’s offense.
Lunt will replace Brandon Weeden, who left for the NFL following record-breaking passing seasons the past two years.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s such a humbling experience,” Lunt said in a statement released by the school. “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.”
Lunt was involved in a three-way battle for the starting job with junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh throughout the spring. As far as anyone could tell, the trio had been relatively neck-and-neck-and-neck throughout the spring, and, at least statistically, the spring game did nothing to separate one from the others.
Other than “scoring points”, Gundy gave no specific reasons for the coaching staff’s decision.
“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,” Gundy said. “All three players had good springs, but at some point, the decision is made on the field.
“There’s always a comment about who coaches are going to name as the starter at any position, but the coaches usually don’t make that decision – the decision is made by the players. Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring.”
Under Weeden — who was of legal drinking age the year Lunt was born* — the past two seasons, the Cowboys have finished No. 2 in passing offense each of those years, and finished No. 2 (2011) and No. 3 (2010) in scoring offense as well. Those are certainly huge shoes to fill for Lunt, although it appears he will be given the chance to fill them at least through the early portion of the regular season. After that? The onus will fall squarely on Lunt’s young shoulders to produce to the offensive level the Cowboys and its fans have become accustomed to in Stillwater.
“We’ve named our starting quarterback and Wes will start in the first game barring (unforeseen) circumstances,” Gundy said. “It’s his responsibility, with the help of the mature players on offense, to lead our team from this point forward.”
Lunt was a four-star member of OSU’s 2012 recruiting class out of Rochester, Ill., rated as the No. 7 pro-style QB in the country by Rivals.com. Barring the unforeseen, he will become the first true freshman to start at QB for the Cowboys since Tone’ Jones in 1993. The school’s release notes that “OSU record books shows no true freshman having started a season opener since at least 1950.”
(*that may or may not be true)
(Photo credit: Oklahoma State athletics)