As spring ended, J.W. Walsh seemed to have a firm grasp on the Cowboys quarterback job.
Yet when asked about his quarterback situation Monday at Big 12 Media Days, coach Mike Gundy didn’t seem inclined to use a Sharpie in declaring Walsh as the starter.
Gundy even hinted at a plan for multiple quarterbacks, which puts junior Daxx Garman and freshman Mason Rudolph in play.
“Well, J.W. Walsh took the majority of the reps in the spring with the 1s and has had a good summer,” Gundy said. “We have some inexperienced and young players behind him. Each one of them brings something a little different to the table in our offense.
“Based on the style of play or the plan of attack that we want to use, we have a little bit of flexibility with the quarterback we put in the game at that time.”
AVERETTE’S RECOVERY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Junior college transfer linebacker Devante Averette suffered a knee injury in the spring — previously reported as a torn ACL — but has been rehabbing and now could possibly play this fall.
“They all recover different, but I’m not sure the extent of his injury was documented properly,” Gundy said. “He’s out there running around and doing well.”
At a position stripped of depth by graduation, loss of projected starter Kris Catlin to academic issues and D’Nerius Antoine’s inability to qualify, any availability of Averette would provide a boost.
Gundy did not elaborate on Averette’s injury, but did say that he’ll be closely watched when practices start in August.
“I would guess when we start camp they’ll have to make a decision on what the stability of it is and the risk involved,” Gundy said.
SEALES ON POLL: WAIT AND SEE
With the loss of 28 seniors, along with a few other personnel hits, the Cowboys appear to be in a rebuild, at least temporarily.
And that was reflected in the preseason media poll, where OSU finished fifth in the voting.
“We don’t try to look at that,” said Cowboys receiver Jhajuan Seales. “We just keep going, playing our hearts out. We don’t pay attention to the polls so much, we just go out and try to win games.
“I mean, yeah, it’s motivation. But you don’t want to pay too much attention to it. You just have to win games and let people see what you can do.”
And then, Seales said, check back in December.
“See where they had us and see where we came to be,” he said.
Gundy reflecting as he enters his 10th season as Cowboys head coach:
“From a personal standpoint, I couldn't be any more proud of who we are and the direction that we're going. But it has changed considerably. Just like walking in right now, I felt like Britney Spears walking in here with all the cameras and the pictures. And when I walked in the first year, I'm not sure that a lot of people didn't think I wasn't just working at the hotel.”
SIMMONS PREACHING LEADERSHIP
Amid massive turnover, identifying new leaders has been an extra focus on OSU’s to-do list.
Linebacker Ryan Simmons, one of just four returning starters on defense, is preaching widespread leadership.
“I try to tell everybody, ‘Be a leader for yourself,’” Simmons said. “Know that you’re leading yourself in a way that is benefitting everybody else. And hold yourself accountable, so that you can put your best foot forward for this defense and knowing that you can do your job just as good as I can do my job.”
TEAMMATES LOOK FORWARD TO HILL AT WR
The hype surrounding junior college transfer Tyreek Hill was only escalated when the media selected him as its Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year. But the question remains: how will Hill be used?
“We'll play him at a running back position. We'll play him at the receiver position, and we look forward to him helping us in special teams,” Gundy. “We're learning more about him each day. We feel like that he needs to touch the ball at least 15 to 20 times a game, maybe more, depending on how he fits into our system each week.”
But Seales said he’s only witnessed Hill’s track speed at mostly one position thus far.
“I haven’t really seen him at receiver much, he’s been prominently at running back right now,” Seales said. “We’re going to move him around eventually.”
Seales said he’s been impressed with Hill’s ability to catch swing passes out of the backfield, but it’s a small sample size. Cornerback Kevin Peterson said he has no doubts Hill has the crisp route running abilities and soft hands to make him a legitimate wide receiver threat in the Big 12.
“He can really do anything that you want him to do,” Peterson said. “It just depends where the offense needs him.”
BPS TURF: NEW FIELD, SAME FEEL
Peterson isn’t picky when it comes to playing surfaces.
“Turf is turf when it comes down to it,” he said.
So no real surprise that he doesn’t feel much difference when he runs on the newly installed AstroTurf at Boone Pickens Stadium. It’s the same surface that was installed in the Sherman Smith Center, the Cowboys’ indoor training facility.
“I’m sure it’s better than the old turf we had,” Peterson said. “They said it was old and rotten, I guess. It’s probably not as hard as it used to be.”