STILLWATER — The day of Oklahoma State's first spring practice, coach Mike Gundy said that he wanted one of the Cowboys' three starting quarterback candidates to “take (the job) and run with it.”
Yet here we are more than a month later, heading into the final week of workouts with little clarity on who will take OSU's first snap in September.
Junior Clint Chelf, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and true freshman Wes Lunt are all still taking equal reps. All are still alternating running the first-team offense. And not one has consistently performed better than the other two in order to create clear separation as the new starter.
“You can say it's half-full and say that all three have done things a lot better than I thought they would,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “You can say it's half-empty and say that nobody has yet distinguished themselves as our guy.”
And last week's scrimmages — the first two for the Cowboys this spring — did not do much to settle the quarterback competition.
On Monday, Gundy called the play of all three quarterbacks “very average” in a scrimmage that was dominated by the defense. On Friday, it was reversed, with all three quarterbacks looking much sharper and leading multiple touchdown drives.
But here's what I can determine from the prolonged QB derby.
It's good news for Wes Lunt.
Yes, the guy who should be enjoying his final months as a high school senior is still very much in contention for this job. He was naturally going to show the most improvement because he had to start from scratch, but some would say he was absolutely the best quarterback last week.
Conversely, it's bad news for Clint Chelf.
If someone really needed to firmly take hold of this job, it was Chelf. Monken said as much before the spring began when he emphasized Chelf should be “significantly” better than Walsh and Lunt early on because he has been in the program the longest. Clearly, that did not happen.
And Walsh continues to be an interesting prospect in this race.
He got a chance to show his athletic ability in Friday's scrimmage when he picked up big yards running the ball a couple zone-read plays, but he's been the most inconsistent throwing the football in recent practices.
I don't know if Gundy will really be able to confidently name a starter by the end of Saturday's spring finale, based on what's transpired through 12 workouts. But he's been adamant about his desire to do that.
“There's separation with guys, and then some other ones may make some ground up,” Gundy said. “We would still like to name a starting quarterback by the end of spring ball.
“We were hoping to do it by the end of (last) week, but we want to make sure it's the right guy and for the right reasons.”
Monken was more hesitant before practice began about needing to name a starter by the end of the spring. It's unlikely he's changed his stance now. He has said, though, that he would like to get it down to a two-quarterback competition.
Perhaps it would be wise for the coaches to let the competition extend into the fall. All three quarterbacks, especially Walsh and Lunt, are going to continue to grow during summer workouts and fall camp. And if they were all still in the race, it would all but eliminate the chance that one of them would transfer at the end of the spring semester.
My gut says one of those quarterbacks will need to have a heck of a final week to snag the job by Saturday.