STILLWATER — Clint Chelf doesn't automatically inspire those around him. The Oklahoma State quarterback is a low-key personality playing a high-key position.
Chelf himself admits that's his biggest mission this spring. Not convince players and coaches that he's got a big-time arm. Not proving that he has the firmest grasp of OSU's offense.
Chelf knows he must convince his 'mates in shoulder pads, not to mention Mike Gundy and Todd Monken, that he's capable of leading a team determined to defend its Big 12 Championship. Capable of replacing an iconic quarterback, which Brandon Weeden most certainly was.
Chelf is a “very quiet leader,” said his high school coach, Enid's Tommy Parker. “He is a guy, if you're not careful as a coach, you step back and think, ‘Is this really important to this guy?' You kind of worry about it a little bit.”
But Parker pleads guilty to misreading Chelf back in Enid and warns Gundy's staff not to do the same.
And here's the evidence. This isn't the first time Chelf has tried to fill some awfully big cleats.
In 2007, Chelf took over as Enid's quarterback, succeeding Austin Box, who had led the Plainsmen to the Class 6A state title game the year before.
And despite the admitted skepticism of his own coaches, Chelf flourished.
“It was a pretty big deal,” Chelf said of following Box. “An Army All-American going to OU. About the same situation” as now.
Box, who tragically died last spring just before his final season as a Sooner linebacker, was an Enid legend.
“As big of shoes as there's ever been in Enid,” said Parker, who was defensive coordinator in the Box years and became head coach in 2008, Chelf's senior season. “Austin might be the greatest athlete to ever come through Enid. Certainly might be the most ballyhooed; moreso than Lydell Carr.”
I don't know about that. Carr in 1983 was as good a high school football player as I've ever seen, and Enid won the state championship. But just making the conversation with Carr is impressive.
“Austin Box, from the time he was 10 years old, everybody knew how good he was,” Parker said. “Pretty big shoes to fill.
“Then Clint had to come in. Everybody just assumed there would be a major dropoff at quarterback, and there really wasn't. Certainly not knocking Austin as a quarterback, either. He made us go. But Clint stepped in and did everything you could ask a quarterback to do.”
I don't know who will win the OSU quarterback job. The best guesses center on redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, who might not have the arm nor the experience of Chelf, a fourth-year junior, but exhibits the leadership persona most coaches desire.
That's where Chelf's mission kicks in.
“I'm ready to get my opportunity and see what I can do,” Chelf said. “I always felt like I'm a natural leader. In high school, I had to follow a great player.”
That experience taught Chelf “just to keep working hard,” he said. “Not let pressure get to you. Go out there and work hard.”
Parker said he was fooled by Chelf's personality. Said he actually was angry with Chelf at one point of his high school career. Thought that Chelf was “too cool to step up and lead and put his heart out there.”
But Parker says he was wrong.
“That's so far from the truth, it's amazing,” Parker said. “He's very calm, cool and collected. Truth be told, he absolutely's got ice water running through his veins. He gets rattled by nothing. It's kind of amazing, really.”
And now the skeptic has become Chelf's biggest supporter.
“Clint's one of those guys, if you ever give him an opportunity, you're not going to get it back,” Parker said. “You're not going to get him off the field. If he ever gets the starting nod, they ain't ever going to take it away from him.”
Winning the job is Chelf's biggest hurdle. Adequately Replacing a star quarterback who will be remembered forever? Been there, done that.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at