J.W. Walsh Wants To Throw The Deep Ball

Things were a lot different for J.W. Walsh back in October 2011. The now sophomore Oklahoma State quarterback was a few short months into his redshirt season. The initial growth of his development as a passer was documented in an ESPN feature as part of "Year of the Quarterback: Depth Chart," that cataloged the Cowboys' fall camp.

It included practice footage of a young Walsh throwing balls alongside Brandon Weeden and Clint Chelf.

Keep watching and you'll see Walsh winching in pain, saying "it really feels like my shoulder is falling off right now." The recent Denton (Texas) Guyer High School grad's muscles cramped under the weight of a college workout. It's typical. But does Walsh feel that same pain in spring practice these days, as he fights for a starting spot for the Cowboys this season?

"Absolutely not," Walsh said. "It's conditioned for it now and I rarely feel any kind of pain in my shoulder or arm now, because you get used to throwing that many balls."

As it should be. But that doesn't mean Walsh has escaped the pressure to shed his run-first image. Of course, he'll gladly accept the role of situational running quarterback this fall if coach Mike Gundy believes its Walsh's best fit. That seems likely, considering Chelf has taken the first-team snaps this spring.

But Walsh is working every day to make sure coaches and fans fully respect his passing game. Most notably, his ability to throw the deep ball. It could mean the difference between have an opportunity to start and sliding back down the depth chart permanently.

"It's one thing I've been harping on myself this spring," Walsh said. "Making sure I'm throwing an accurate deep ball on time … I'm extremely motivated. I knew coming in that (running) would be kind of my thing, but at the same time, I want people to see me throw the ball. And see that I can throw the ball."

At times, Walsh was a big-play threat through the air last season, including a 74-yard touchdown heave to Charlie Moore against Iowa State. At other times, his deep ball lacked the consistency and ease shown by his Cowboy counterparts.

But with a handful of starts, 1,564 yards with 13 touchdowns through the air, and a Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year trophy to his credit, Walsh is poised to continue his development as a passer. He says the formula to improving his deep ball is a combination of weight training, repetition and consistency.

"If you get one good throw at it, you can't stop," Walsh said. "You've got to keep throwing it, making sure that you perfect it. Right now, that's all I can do. Keep getting reps at it.

"Since I first came here, everyone's been working with me on throwing the ball a lot better. Just being able to make quicker reads and making throws accurate and on time; it's gotten a whole lot better."

Even with improved arm, the Cowboys' can't miss out on Walsh's ability as a rushing threat next season. Combine that with a presumed senior starter in Chelf, and it's likely Walsh will be forced to wait at least another year for his chance at the starting job. But considering the madness of last season at quarterback, he's preparing like a starter.

"Any time I get the opportunity to run and I get to make plays with my legs, it's a lot of fun," Walsh said. "At the same time, that's not really was this offense was made for. It was made to throw the ball around."

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