Wes Lunt

True frosh tapped as Ok. St.’s starting QB

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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)

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.