STILLWATER – As Oklahoma State freshmen a year ago, J.W. Walsh and Josh Stewart made sure to maintain their bonded connection, albeit on the NCAA Football video game.
“We created plays,” Stewart said, “and his player would throw me a touchdown.”
Walsh to Stewart, just like it was back in Texas at Denton Guyer High School.
Still, that was video controller stuff. Their on-field chemistry was on hold, with Walsh in redshirt last fall while Stewart played as a true freshman, latching onto balls delivered by Brandon Weeden. Then Wes Lunt won the job to replace Weeden at quarterback this season, further delaying the Denton duo from doing their thing.
With Lunt lost to a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette, Walsh rode to the rescue, leading the Cowboys to a 65-24 romp.
And the redshirt freshman wasted no time reconnecting with Stewart, finding the sophomore receiver seven times for 92 yards and two touchdowns covering 33 and 17 yards.
Walsh to Stewart.
“I mean, it's what we dreamed about,” Stewart said. “Now we're out here doing it for real and it's an unreal feeling.”
Lunt's status remains uncertain, with Cowboys coach Mike Gundy intent on making the Texas Longhorns keep guessing – and preparing – about either option in advance of their clash two Saturdays from now.
Yet as long as Walsh is throwing, Stewart figures to be receiving.
They were frequently connected at Denton Guyer, hooking up regularly as seniors in leading a charge to a runner-up finish in the state playoffs. Walsh passed for 3,200 yards and ran for more than 1,400 yards. Stewart totaled 56 receptions for 971 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“To have Josh out there is just an unbelievable feeling, a comforting feeling,” Walsh said, “to know you've got somebody out there I've been around for I don't know how long. It's just nice to know that he's out there with me.
“At the same time, everyone… I feel like I've known these guys my entire life, the way we've got a good connection, a good bond as an entire team. And it was evident (Saturday), the way everything came together.”
Indeed, Walsh wasn't locked in only on Stewart Saturday. Ten Cowboys finished with at least one reception and Blake Jackson actually led OSU in receiving yards with 112, also catching a touchdown throw from Walsh, as did Kye Staley.
Still, Stewart did lead the team in receptions.
“It's a blessing to be able to play with him, after playing with him in high school,” Stewart said, “especially for him being my best friend.
“He did a good job of putting the ball on the money, not only to me, but to all the receivers. I'm proud of him.”
Stewart may consider asking Walsh to contain himself somewhat on any future scoring connections. After the 33-yarder – a strike over the middle that led to Stewart splitting the last line of defense for the touchdown – Walsh was literally the first one there to celebrate, racing to the end zone and crashing into Stewart.
“Man, he knocked the wind out of me,” Stewart said. “He hit me harder than (the Ragin' Cajuns) were. It was exciting though.”
Said Walsh: “When I saw him catch it, I wasn't sure if he was going to score or not. When I saw him run into the end zone, it was pure excitement. I couldn't control myself running up to him. When I got to him, I didn't know what I was going to do, what I was going to say. But it was special.”
Walsh to Stewart, just like old times.