STILLWATER — J.W. Walsh lost his quarterback job last October. He didn’t lose his status on the Oklahoma State football team.
Walsh’s leadership with the Cowboys is unassailable. Ask any Cowboy about Walsh, and you know what kind of answer you’ll get.
“Obviously, J.W. is a great leader,” said receiver Jhajuan Seales.
Walsh’s leadership skills have been tested often in his years on campus
* A three-man quarterback derby in spring 2012, won by a true freshman, Wes Lunt, which would discourage any veteran.
* An injury in October 2012, which ended Walsh’s four-game run as the quarterback, during which he completed 67 percent of his passes and averaged 329 passing yards per game.
* Losing the job in midseason 2013 to Clint Chelf, who took the Cowboys within a whisker of a Big 12 title.
Through it all, Walsh has remained the stoic and loyal Cowboy.
Tailback Des Roland called Walsh the “unknown leader. Even though he got his spot took last year, he still was the hardest worker in practice and the weight room. It’s going to pay off for him this season.”
Walsh is in another quarterback derby, and another true freshman, Mason Rudolph, appears to be Walsh’s chief competition. But this race looks less open. Walsh still doesn’t have the arm strength desired in the Cowboy offense, but his intangibles have grown so much over the last three years, it will be difficult to relegate him to the bench.
“In my mind, J.W.’s going to win, because he loves to battle,” said Roland. “He doesn’t want it to just get handed to him.”
Nothing’s been handed to Walsh. He’s 6-2 as the OSU starter but has finished each of the last two seasons watching Chelf run the Cowboy offense.
“He’s the most competitive person on our team,” Roland said. “He’s the same leader that he has been, nothing has changed about that. And he’s improved on his throwing.
“By far, he’s been the most consistent. First one in the weight room, last one to leave. First one to watch film, first one out before practice, last one to leave. I believe he’s going to be the one.”
Walsh is off limits for interviews until sometime in August. But during the spring fan event on April 5, Walsh addressed the crowd.
“This Cowboy team means a lot to me,” Walsh said. “To be able to have that kind of (leadership) role and have that kind of role in our success is something that means a lot to me.
“We haven’t won a Big 12 championship since my freshman (2011) year here, and I think that’s something we need to get back to. I think that’s what a lot of guys feel on the team. We’re definitely working for that and striving for that.”