STILLWATER — Todd Monken stood in the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium during the middle of preseason camp and sorted through the circumstances that could get Clint Chelf on the field this fall.
“You never know,” Monken said then. “You lose your quarterback, now I'm the backup. And then maybe I'm the guy.”
Sure, it was possible. But seemed more than improbable at the time. It was difficult to buy that even Monken, who's as brutally and refreshingly honest as they come, believed the words coming out of his mouth.
Yet jump ahead about three months, and Chelf was celebrating in that same end zone after tossing a touchdown pass to Josh Stewart.
He was indeed Oklahoma State's starting quarterback — in a key mid-November conference victory against West Virginia.
Chelf's up-and-down OSU journey that turned into a fairy tale Saturday has been discussed heavily during the past week.
It's worth discussing more.
In a matter of months, Chelf has gone from the quarterback pegged to replace Brandon Weeden, to the third-teamer behind a pair of freshmen, to the quarterback thrust into emergency duty on the road against the new No. 1 team in the nation, to the starter who helped lead the Cowboys to an important home win.
“It definitely makes it a lot more special, to know that you had a direct part in it,” Chelf said. “I can't give enough credit to the defense, special teams and my offensive line, receivers and running backs.
“They played a great game around me and I just tried to get them the ball.”
Injuries to starter Wes Lunt and backup J.W. Walsh have given Chelf the chance to play, but he's made himself successful. Monken and coach Mike Gundy have constantly praised Chelf's attitude, work habits and perseverance since essentially being demoted to the No. 3 quarterback following a spring quarterback competition.
A veteran in Chelf's situation would often transfer, or settle into the third-team role and finish out his career never expecting to play. “Staying ready” is usually nothing more than a cliché sports phrase.