STILLWATER — When J.W. Walsh began classes Jan. 10 in Stillwater, the Oklahoma State quarterback stepped foot on campus as possibly the most prepared freshman quarterback in school history.
No big deal, right?
Wrong. Walsh might end up one play away from seeing time on the football field in 2011.
Returning All-Big 12 quarterback Brandon Weeden played the majority of the 2010 season with a thumb injury that could have kept him out 4 to 6 weeks. Without Weeden's toughness, the Cowboys would have been looking for a replacement.
And in 2011, that replacement — if needed — could be Walsh.
The former Denton (Texas) Guyer quarterback has life experience beyond his years. Walsh has been interviewed for segments on ESPN. He led Guyer to the title game during a summer 7-on-7 tournament that was nationally televised. Walsh played in the Army All-American Game in San Antonio.
More importantly, he's won a lot of football games.
“I think the amount of games we played and the adversity we faced helped me mature as a football player and a person,” Walsh said. “Those past games ... will only help me in the future.”
In three seasons as the starting quarterback at Guyer, Walsh led his squad to three straight semifinal berths and led the Wildcats to the Class 5A Division II state title game as a senior.
Walsh, who will battle to earn the backup role behind Weeden during OSU's spring practice, understands the pressure that comes with playing quarterback.
“Especially in Texas,” he said. “Being a quarterback and trying to win is a pretty big deal. Being in two state semifinals and a state championship is going to be a huge factor in how I handle the pressures of college football and how I can lead Oklahoma State to success.”
After former offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen was hired to join the coaching staff at West Virginia, Walsh reaffirmed his oral commitment to the Cowboys. Even though Holgorsen played a role in Walsh's initial commitment, the elite quarterback recruit has not wavered in his decision.
“When I made a commitment, I made it to Coach Gundy,” Walsh said. “He talked to me and told me nothing was changing with him, so nothing changed with me. There's still good things at Oklahoma State.”
With his collegiate career under way, Walsh is focused on his future at OSU. He's so excited about the possibilities that he's been recruiting fellow prospects to Stillwater.
“I'm very excited about the class I am a part of,” Walsh said. “Hopefully, it stays together because the talent is amazing. If we can put it together and work like we are supposed to work, we have the potential to be a Big 12 champion and hopefully a national champion.”