DALLAS — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has made a habit out of keeping his quarterback situation a mystery heading into fall camp.
With the 2014 season on the horizon, Gundy was back at it on the opening day of Big 12 media days on Monday, but the former college quarterback wasn’t as veiled in his assessment of the position as in past seasons.
Former Guyer standout J.W. Walsh enters his junior season with eight career starts under his belt, and the starting job appears to be all but his when the Cowboys open the season at AT&T Stadium against defending national champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Gundy said Walsh took the majority of the first-team snaps in the spring, and mentioned only Walsh by name when talking about his three quarterbacks, including incoming freshman Mason Rudolph.
“He’s a returning veteran guy, so in spring practice or fall camp, it’s easier to put the guy out there that’s the returning veteran guy that’s run the system,” Gundy said. “Plus, he’s played in big games and had success. He’ll throw the ball better than he did last year. There were times last year when he threw the ball effectively. I think he got a bad rap there for a while, but he’ll do fine.”
Baylor coach Art Briles said he expects a big year from Walsh in what appears to be his first season as the unquestioned starter, despite Gundy’s tendency to keep coy about his quarterbacks over the years.
“He’s a great player,” said Briles, who recruited Walsh heavily out of high school. “I liked him. Still like him. He’s a good football player, you know, his dad’s a coach, he’s athletic, he’s smart. He’s at a tough position. It’s tough to play quarterback because you get beat up on the field and off the field.
“It’s not my call, but he is a really, really good quarterback that brings a lot of potential to the table because of his dual-threat abilities.”
Last season, Walsh completed 60 percent of his passes and threw nine touchdowns while also rushing for three. He was also named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week after his team’s win over Texas-San Antonio.
Sadler already opening eyes at Tech
Ian Sadler has not begun his first collegiate fall camp, but the former Argyle standout is already making a name for himself in Lubbock.
Sadler’s last high school game at Argyle netted him offensive MVP honors in the Class 3A Division II state championship game and he finished his season with 2,378 all-purpose yards and 38 touchdowns — rushing, receiving, kick returning and passing.
Now, his new team at Texas Tech is starting to see the versatility.
“We expect him to play,” second-year coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s a kid who has a lot of natural ability and makes things look easy out there. Whether it’s the return game or playing inside receiver, we’re going to get him out there this year and see what he can do.”
Bradley Marquez, who is Tech’s second-leading returning receiver, said he can see Sadler’s willingness to learn and contribute immediately as a freshman.
“He’s been like a sponge so far,” Marquez said. “He’s been soaking everything in, asking questions and taking notes. It’s a good thing to see in a young guy that he wants to learn so much. He’s taking all the right steps. He just needs a little more time to get ready. He’s definitely on track to be a great player for us.”
Former Argyle standout finished as player
Sadler’s high school teammate and fellow Tech signee Connor Wilson, a ball-hawk safety for Argyle as a junior and senior, is finished as a football player before his career at Tech ever began.
No details were released, but Kingsbury said the 6-2, 205-pound safety is no longer a player in Tech’s program but that he will still attend the university and be a medical redshirt, which won’t count against the school’s allotted scholarships.
“He’ll be attending Texas Tech on a medical redshirt, so that’s where that’s at,” Kingsbury said. “He’s done playing, but he’ll be coming to school here.”
When asked if the redshirt was just for this upcoming season and if Wilson would return to the field after that, Kingsbury had a quick answer.
“He’s done playing,” Kingsbury said.
Bean primed for breakout season
After playing the game of his life in Oklahoma State’s Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri in January, former Guyer standout Jimmy Bean returns for his junior season poised for a breakout season.
Bean, who started all 13 of the Cowboys’ games in 2013 at defensive end, finished his sophomore year with 34 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks.
“I expect great things from Jimmy Bean,” Oklahoma State middle linebacker Ryan Simmons said. “The game is changing to that speed rusher — that 6-6, 250-pound guy. He’s very athletic and can go out in coverage or rush off the edge. He has a wide range. I think he’ll have a great year this year.”
Bean, who is 6-5, 250 pounds, was the Cowboys’ best defensive player in the Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri, racking up career-highs in tackles (seven), sacks (one) and tackles-for-loss (three) against the Tigers.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.