STILLWATER — J.W. Walsh pauses when asked to recall his late-April meeting with Todd Monken, the moment the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator told Walsh that Wes Lunt had been named the Cowboys' starting quarterback.
“Um,” Walsh says.
“It was hard,” Walsh says while sitting at his own table at Saturday's OSU Media Day. “But it is what it is. You've just got to keep moving on. You've got to keep progressing as a quarterback and helping the team progress.”
Walsh simply hates to lose. He thinks his competitive drive stems from his parents, John and Amber, who were never the mom and dad who just let their kid win when playing ball in the backyard. And that fire — which Monken simply refers to as “it” — is probably the quality OSU coaches like most about Walsh.
“No matter if it's with my 9-year-old sister or if it's against Oklahoma, there's always something I'm trying to compete for,” J.W. said.
Which is why J.W. never considered transferring when Lunt beat him out for the starting job.
“Not at all,” J.W. said. “Not for one second.”
Instead, J.W. went home to Denton, Texas, where his dad is the head coach at Guyer High School, this summer to work on the parts of his game Monken told him needed improving like footwork and mastering the playbook.
He also slightly adjusted his throwing motion to get more on top of the ball on his follow through.
“The past couple months before the summer, my arm wasn't, throwing-wise, what it needed to be to be a prostyle quarterback or throw the ball as many times as we do,” J.W. said. “(Adjusting my throwing motion) was nothing big or crazy, but it needed to be changed.”
Monken recently called J.W. “a runner who's developing as a thrower” and said the Cowboys ultimately would have needed to change their offensive system, one that has worked magically the past two seasons, if the redshirt-freshman had been named the starter.
His different skill set, however, is also precisely why Gundy and Monken have continued to say they are working to find a way to get J.W. on the field.
Gundy said Saturday that he doesn't see J.W. in a role like Collin Klein at Kansas State or Blake Bell at Oklahoma — quarterbacks who consistently pound the ball between the tackles. At 6-foot-5, 226 pounds and 6-6, 254 pounds, respectively, Klein and Bell have the bodies to sustain the constant blows. Not so with J.W., who stands 6-2 and weighs 205 pounds.
Instead, J.W.'s athleticism and ability to both run and throw could still work at times within the Cowboys' up-tempo, spread scheme.
“From what I understand, he runs our system, but then he has a certain set of plays that we think he's more effective at than maybe Wes,” Gundy said. “If he were to get in the game, we would still run our offense, but lean toward those plays.”
J.W. said Saturday that he has not had any discussions with Monken about his role in the offense this season. But he's aware of the public comments Monken and Gundy have made about their desire to get him involved, and appreciates the confidence the coaches have shown in him.
“That just helps me to continue to get better,” J.W. said. “Because now that they're saying that, it kind of gives me an indication that I'll have an opportunity, so I need to be prepared and need to be ready to help the team out as soon as I can.”
In watching J.W. and Lunt interact during Saturday's Fan Appreciation Day — they were sitting next to each other — it's clear that they get along. But J.W.'s competitiveness will be a good push for Lunt in his first season as the starter. It will also continue to serve J.W. well as coaches figure out the best way to utilize him.
And he said his mindset is the same as if he had been named the No. 1 quarterback.
“Even last year as a redshirt, I guess I was three or four plays away from it (being me),” J.W. said. “That's all it takes. You're one play away from being the guy that everyone looks at on the field, you're the leader.”