Three Walk-ons Earn Scholarships

STILLWATER -- During one of the very early drills in practice, an 11-vs.-11 drill that was non-contact with an emphasis on the passing game, quarterback Mason Rudolph thread the ball over the middle to Cowboy back Blake Jarwin. It was not an easy catch as there was traffic between Rudolph and Jarwin for the ball to go through. Still, that was a catch that a scholarship player should make.

"You know that's a good reminder there, I can't be dropping passes like that. I have to watch the ball in on that," Jarwin, now a scholarship player, said after practice.

In what has become somewhat of a tradition when fall camp opens, head coach Mike Gundy did one of the things he enjoys doing the most by rewarding walk-on players with a scholarship. This year it was three very different players – Jarwin, Brad Lundblade and Chad Whitener – and two of them will count not only against the 85 scholarship limit but also on the 25 initial scholarship players the Cowboys can bring in to start a school year.

“It’s one of the greatest joys as a coach to get to reward guys for their hard work and dedication,” Gundy said. “We've had a long tradition here at Oklahoma State of a great walk-on program. We’ve had guys put their heart and souls into this program and it’s always great when you can put them on scholarship.

"Blake has been in our program coming from Tuttle, Oklahoma and has taken all the proper steps to earn a scholarship. Chad transferred here and earned the right to a scholarship. Lundblade was able to contribute right away as a true freshman. When a young man comes in and plays like Lundblade, we are happy to give him that scholarship.”

Gundy also pointed out that he knows he is rewarding parents and families as their sons did the work and now they are looking at a scholarship that is worth more than ever now with the cost of attendance stipend added this school year by the NCAA. That scholarship could be worth as much as $100,000 over a four-year period.

Lundblade and Whitener will have three years to enjoy it, while Jarwin has two years to experience life as a scholarship student-athlete as he heads into his junior season.

"I came here the very first day as a walk-on pledging to be the best that I could be for Oklahoma State," Jarwin said. I've been blessed to have multiple opportunities to get on the field and hope to make more great plays out there."

As Gundy said, Whitener is a transfer from California who is originally out of Mansfield, Texas. He came in knowing there would be opportunity on the depth chart at linebacker and he will play a lot of snaps backing up senior Ryan Simmons this season at middle linebacker. He also knows this is a big deal for his family.

"It's worked out pretty good for me," Whitener said of the experience on the field. "It's great and a big weight lifted off our shoulders as a family and I can't wait to tell them about it."

Lundblade is set to be the starting center this season after doing a rare thing as a true freshman, starting a game on the offensive line. He had 11 scholarship offers coming out of Liberty Christian Academy in Argyle but chose to come to Oklahoma State without one. This means a lot to him as well.

"It's amazing and my parents helped me out so I am glad to get this for them," Lundblade explained. "I knew this is where I wanted to play. It was a good season, and yes that was a pretty good accomplishment to play as a true freshman."

Three very deserving players and you have to look at all three and hand it to them. They earned it, one the hard way, one the on the bounce back, and the other with a very strong first impression.

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