J.W. Walsh is once and again OSU’s starting quarterback, and while Clint Chelf was a popular pick to lead the Cowboys, so is Walsh.
Walsh has the respect of this team, in part because of his toughness. Tough physically, tough mentally.
After Walsh led the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday in Houston, his teammates talked about what they admire about the third-year sophomore from Denton, Texas.
“He stays humble, stays working hard,” said tailback Jeremy Smith. “Even in practice, we let him run a little bit, and he’ll run all the way down the field, 70 yards, just to score. That guy’s a great guy. He works hard all the time.”
Slot receiver Josh Stewart is a close friend of Walsh’s; they played together at Denton Guyer.
“He’s still the same,” Stewart said. “Work hard. J.W. is always an overachiever in that stuff. He’s first in almost everything. He don’t get tired.
“The quarterback, like Coach (Mike) Gundy says, needs to be the toughest guy on the field, and he was definitely that today.”
I wrote about Walsh for the Sunday Oklahoman. You can read that column here.
And toughness definitely is a Walsh trait. He returned early from the knee injury that threatened to wreck his 2012 season. He takes on would-be tacklers when necessary.
And think of this. The three-man quarterback derby that played out from February 2012 through May 2013 prompted Wes Lunt to transfer and had Chelf admittedly thinking about it. But Walsh never wavered, even though he had the most to gain by transferring – he was the least fit for the Air Raid offense. Yet Walsh just hung in and competed.
“We feel real comfortable with J.W. at the helm,” said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “He’s a competitor, he’s a tough son of a gun and he’s a good athlete. He can move and he’s smart. He’s a lot of fun to coach and be around.”
That tough mentality is manifest on the field. Stewart calls his old pal a “short-term memory guy.”
“When he made a bad throw, he’d come back with a 50-yard run or something like that,” Stewart said. “That’s exciting to see out of your quarterback.”