Brandon Weeden: From walk-on to superstar

OSU FOOTBALL — OSU's quarterback took a chance by returning to school and football after leaving baseball. But it paid off for both him and the Cowboys.
by Gina Mizell Published: December 20, 2011

— Brandon Weeden calmly holds his golf swing as the tiny white ball slams into a screen projecting the image of a fairway. Hanging from the ceiling of the simulator is a computer recording the distance and accuracy of the shot.

Welcome to the beginning golf class at Oklahoma State, where the Cowboy quarterback is undoubtedly the best-known student working on his game. It's the Tuesday before Bedlam, and Weeden and classmate Connor Sokolosky are discussing possible uniform combinations for the game in between swings.

“Yeah, I know what we're wearing,” Weeden says with a smile, without revealing the secret.

After class, Weeden will grab lunch with his wife, Melanie, before heading to team meetings and practice. The day might also include a trip to the academic center to work on his four online graduate classes.

Life is good for OSU signal-caller these days. His Cowboys throttled Oklahoma 44-10 to capture their first Big 12 title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford on Jan. 2. He has finished up a semester of graduate courses after earning his degree in management last year. He's OSU's all-time passing leader and a future NFL quarterback.

It's almost hard to believe now that more than four years ago, Weeden walked on at OSU without fanfare after a five-year career in professional baseball fizzled out.

He'll leave Stillwater as one of the OSU greats on the field — and one of the school's most recognizable figures off it.

“These last five years have been, without a doubt, the (most fun) five years I've had playing any sport,” Weeden said. “I wish I could start over from Day 1 and do it all over again. I'm pretty blessed.”

***

OSU coach Mike Gundy first met a 24-year-old Weeden in one of the football offices before the 2007 season. Gundy had scouted Weeden during high school, but he gave up on the quarterback when he heard Weeden would be a high baseball draft pick.

Yet there was Weeden, asking Gundy if he could walk on to the football team.

“I kind of joked with him that this is not minor league baseball,” Gundy said. “I really didn't think he'd make it.”

Weeden hadn't put on the pads in more than five years. He also hadn't attended a class, written a paper or taken a test since graduating high school in 2002. Getting back to both school and football would require major adjustments.

But his maturity, leadership and attention to detail showed early on. Academic counselor Terry Henley noticed that Weeden quickly linked up with former OSU running back Kendall Hunter, making sure he always had a ride to the academic center and was attending his tutoring sessions.

“Anytime that Brandon was coming up here, Kendall would be coming with him,” Henley said. “I didn't know anything about (Weeden), what his background was exactly, but I remember thinking ‘I don't know what kind of quarterback that guy's going to be,' but I remember seeing the leadership qualities that were present.”

Life on the football field wasn't easy, however.

by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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