Spring Football Preview: Quarterbacks

We waited to write our spring preview on quarterbacks for the last in our series, and as this is being written the four quarterbacks for this spring and for next season are stretching and getting ready to throw their first passes of the spring. The eyes will be on Mason Rudolph, senior J.W. Walsh, walk-on Taylor Cornelius, and newly enrolled for this spring freshman John Kolar.

For the first time in several springs, since Brandon Weeden came back for his senior season in 2011, the Cowboys know that their starting quarterback is Mason Rudolph. The talented sophomore finished the 2014 season with wins over OU and Washington in the Cactus Bowl after his redshirt was busted in a strong effort in the rain against highly ranked Baylor.

Rudolph showed great poise and decision making connecting on 46-of-86 passing for 853 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions in three games.

"I'm excited to see what he can do," senior slot receiver David Glidden said. "He has really stepped up his leadership and what he wants to do with that. He has a lot of talent and I think he is going to really have a good spring and lead into a good summer and season next fall. You can tell there is something special about him."

"Just continued leadership and he has done a lot for his body. He is close to 240 pounds, maybe 235 pounds," Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said of Rudolph. "He needs to get better running the offense, throwing the ball, getting it into the right places and doing the things we need to win. We got a lot out of him the last three games."

With Walsh back that is a huge bonus, and Gundy says there will be a package for him. Walsh is a really talented quarterback who is also a tremendous leader and this team needs him very involved.

"He's awesome and he's out there in the offseason workouts working every bit as hard as he has since the first day he got on campus," Gundy said of Walsh despite Rudolph being named the starting quarterback. "He will get the number of reps that a back-up quarterback would get in the spring and then we will have a package of things (run and run-pass) that we think he can do to help us that Mason is not really built for. For two reasons, one that we don't want him (Rudolph) to do and two, things that he just doesn't bring to the table."

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich says he has the best meeting room he's ever had and a lot of that is attributed to the relationship of named starter Rudolph and Walsh. When Rudolph was elevated to the job the injured Walsh really made extra effort to mentor and help prepare Rudolph and the younger quarterback acknowledged that and appreciated it. The relationship is strong between the two to the point that they want each other to have success.

"It's a great thing for this team, when those two have such a great relationship and one of them is mentoring the other and they have a mature relationship then that is a great example to the rest of this team," Yurcich said. "It's good for our other players to see that.

"I think it speaks volumes about what J.W. Walsh is all about and Mason Rudolph is all about and that's winning and team. Our room is great because of their attitudes and how they feel for each other."

Daxx Garman is no longer with the Cowboys. You had the feeling as Gundy spoke about Garman's departure that he was sorry, not from a football standpoint but because of human standpoint as Garman goes to his third college matching the three high schools he attended.

"I know he is going to transfer and I don't know where," Gundy said on Monday. "He wanted a chance to transfer somewhere where he could have a chance to start and he will graduate this May. I've said this before and I really want to thank him for what he has done for Oklahoma State football and I think somebody is going to get a really good player."

Returning Starters
10 Mason Rudolph, QB, So., 6-4, 235
4 J.W. Walsh, QB, Sr., 6-2, 215

None as of now

Waiting to be Discovered
14 Taylor Cornelius, QB, RS-Fr., 6-6, 200
9 John Kolar, QB, Fr., 6-4, 190
22 Todd Mays, Ath., Jr., 6-0, 200

That leaves three other players looking to get reps, and Gundy said they would. Taylor Cornelius is a promising walk-on who is 6-6 and has put on some weight. Hopefully, freshman signee John Kolar can relax and get a gradual acclimation to college football after starring at Norman North. Kolar is player similar in skill set to Rudolph but not as physically developed at this point or even comparable to Rudolph coming out of high school. Kolar is smart and will be fun to watch develop.

It will be really fun if Todd Mays ever takes any snaps at quarterback. The former state champion high school quarterback at Olive Branch, Miss., Mays will start out at running back where he played most of the time in junior college at two-time national champion East Mississippi C.C.

However, Mays also played some quarterback in junior college, completing 15 of 16 passes last season with three touchdowns. That package with Walsh can be even more potent in that now there could be a back-up quarterback for the package and that is a luxury few schools would enjoy.

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