So, yeah, Clint feels different this time around. And looks different, too, according to teammates and coaches.
He's worked to improve his footwork, accuracy and leadership. Smith said the quarterback will throw the ball at a wall if he doesn't have a receiving partner. And Colton noted that a light graduate school class load has allowed Clint to turn more of his attention to football.
The common themes in Clint's improved practice performance, which was a clear issue in previous seasons? Comfort and confidence.
“He's been much better — considerably better — this spring than last spring,” Gundy said. “He was very average last spring … and I think it's because he's more comfortable. He knows that there's competition, but he also knows he's had success, so he's developed confidence. There's nothing greater than playing with confidence.”
Added receiver Tracy Moore: “He never panics. He never gets too excited. He's always at that even level. He never gets down on himself. He's just confident.”
Still, Gundy made it known earlier this week that while Clint has consistently taken reps with the first team, the Cowboys' quarterback race is not necessarily over. He suggested it could continue into fall camp, where OSU will get more than 20 solid practices before its season opener against Mississippi State in Houston.
After all, the same two guys that straight-up beat Clint out last year are back and improved, particularly Lunt following his second winter conditioning program and spring. And even with all the success, Clint's arm deficiencies did occasionally pop up down the stretch.
The quarterback battle likely won't end in August, either, with OSU carrying Big 12 title aspirations into 2013. With two capable signal-callers always waiting in the wings, coaches likely wouldn't hesitate to make a change, if necessary.
Yet Clint's teammates believe he can be the guy who evolves from a feel-good story in 2012 to the full-time starter of a Big 12 contender in 2013.
“It's his (job) for the taking,” Smith said.