Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden has made a considerable jump from No. 3 quarterback to all-conference in one year. After spending 2009 as the Pokes' third-string signal caller, Weeden earned his first collegiate start in 2010 and promptly led OSU to its first 11-win season in school history.
“When we got a system that fit what he does, he's pretty good, he's pretty special,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Brandon Weeden has a lot of heart, he's very mature, he's as good a leader as I've been around. Zac Robinson was a great leader, but so is Weeden, he's more of a quiet leader.”
Most importantly for the Pokes, Weeden improved game-by-game as the season went on, which makes OSU's prospects for 2011 even brighter.
“His mental part of the game was so much better in (the final two months) than it was in the first four games,” Gundy said.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
The decisions of Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon to return to OSU for the 2011 season continued a recent trend in Stillwater. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and offensive tackle Russell Okung each decided to return to OSU for another season before eventually becoming NFL first-round draft picks.
“Pettigrew, Russell and now these two guys have decided to stay,” Gundy said. “I think it relates back to our daily operation here. It's moving in the right direction, and because of that, these guys are willing to stay.”
Gundy credited the overall stability of the Pokes' program, including the coaching staff, training staff and academic staff, as key reasons for the trend of draft-eligible Cowboy standouts deciding to return to OSU.
BLACKMON IS BACK
It would have been hard to blame Blackmon if he decided to leave early for the NFL. The chance to be a first-round pick is rare opportunity.
“I think it was almost pretty much a given that I was leaning the other way (toward leaving),” Blackmon said of his initial thoughts about returning to OSU.
But Blackmon knew he would likely be more prepared to immediately become an impact player in the NFL if he returned to Stillwater.
“Staying here one more year with the coaches and the strength and conditioning staff here, they can get me better and try to get me to my full potential,” said Blackmon. “Like (Weeden) said, It can't hurt you. It can only make you better to come back.”
Both Weeden and Blackmon said they would likely look into getting insurance policies to serve as a safety net heading into next season.