STILLWATER — Wes Lunt's life has officially changed.
Never mind the fact that Lunt has spent the past four months getting acclimated to college life while trying to quickly learn Oklahoma State's spread offense. Being named the Cowboys' starting quarterback days after spring practice ended two weeks ago means Lunt has become a topic for national media. In September, he will possibly be most prominent true freshman starting quarterback in the country. His play will constantly be analyzed and scrutinized, even if he is shielded from talking to the media.
Yet the day Lunt found out he had won the starting job, he called his mother, Jane. She was on the road on her way to pick her son up in Stillwater. They packed up the dorm room and drove back to Wes' hometown of Rochester, Ill., where he'll stay for a few weeks until returning to Stillwater for summer workouts.
Saturday night, Wes participated in a typical rite of passage for any 18-year-old: attending his senior prom.
On second thought, perhaps things have stayed quite normal.
Of course, Wes will again be the big guy around Rochester this summer.
Rochester is a football-crazed town near Springfield with a population of around 3,000. And Wes is the guy who led Rochester High to back-to-back state championships while putting up eye-popping stats (3,650 yards, 31 touchdowns, four interceptions his senior season) along the way. When word got back to Rochester that he would start for OSU in 2012, cellphones that belonged to members of the Lunt family were flooded with calls and messages. It became a local news story.
Within the Lunt family, however, it's a bit different. Wes and his older brother, Wil, who plays quarterback for Western Illinois, have always been able to talk football. But it's never been a common topic with his parents.
“I don't understand football to the degree and to the level that he's playing,” Wes' father, Andy, said, “which makes it great, because we can't talk about it and I can't be critical of him. He's way beyond my level of knowledge.
“Football is kind of my son's world, and I don't understand it. It works out really well for this family.”
Even during spring ball, usually Andy's only football-related question for Wes during phone conversations was a very general, “How was practice?”
It's an interesting contrast to fellow OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh, whose father, John, is the head coach at Denton Guyer High School. That background has contributed to J.W.'s natural leadership qualities, as well as his general love and understanding of the game. The opposite approach, with much less football at home, seems to have catered well to Wes' calm personality.
And in a time when many parents — who are usually nothing more than armchair quarterbacks (someone like John Walsh is clearly the exception here) — constantly pressure or critique their kids too much in sports, the way the Lunt family has handled their big-armed son is refreshing.
Before Wes must take on the responsibility of leading summer workouts, all while trying to continuously improve so he can keep hold of the starting job, a little time in that family environment back home in Rochester should help him recharge.