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A Look at the Future of the QB Position in Stillwater, OK

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NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Is it too early to be looking ahead? Yeah. We have a big game against VA Tech this month, but you can’t blame me for taking a peak at the future.

Mason Rudolph only has one game left behind center for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Rudolph is arguably the best quarterback that has ever put on an orange and black jersey, and fans will be watching him play for Coach Mike Gundy for the last time this bowl season.

He will be leaving Stillwater holding the school record for passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offensive yardage and total offensive touchdowns. He is also the winningest quarterback in Oklahoma State history, passing head coach Mike Gundy earlier this season. He has a beautiful long ball, a killer fist pump, a scholar’s dedication to the game and a permanent designated spot under the palm trees. Gundy said of Rudolph, “He has been the most committed player to this team that (he’s) ever seen.”

Mason Rudolph will go down as an Oklahoma State legend (he will), but he wasn’t perfect. He absolutely had his flaws, took his hits, made mistakes. The Baylor Bears had Mason Rudolph’s number until they became a shell of themselves during his senior season, he loved to sail the midrange throws, he would sometimes become passive with the football despite having one of the prettiest long balls in the game, fumbles have always been a problem with him, and worst of all... he only beat the Sooners once in his career (his very first win as a starter).

I know I would kill to have #2 trot out there to lead the team next season, but he’s on his way to The League. Oklahoma State will have to strap ‘em up next year without the winningest quarterback in the school’s history. It’s time for someone else to step in. What does the future look like at quarterback? I’ll run you through the guys we have on campus (and off campus) who could potentially be next in line.


Taylor Cornelius

#14 - R-Sr. (2018) - 6’6 / 225lbs - Bushland, TX

NCAA Football: Southeastern Louisiana at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

QB2. Taylor Cornelius is probably the quarterback who’s play style most reflects the one of Mason Rudolph. The lanky QB from Bushland, Texas has been by Mason Rudolph’s side since they came in as freshman together. One, a 4-star prospect with offers from the likes of Louisville, LSU, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech, and the other a walk-on with zero D1 scholarships offered. Cornelius has been a guy who understood his role on the team and was ready to play at any given notice.

Corndog’s career stats:

Do you see those rushing numbers? SNEAKY. ATHLETIC. Don’t get it wrong, Cornelius isn’t anywhere close to the runner that the rest of the guys I’m about to talk about are, but once he gets going, he’s tough to catch (let alone tackle).

However, Taylor Cornelius isn’t going to win the starting job with his legs, he’s going to have to win it with his arm. And he can sure spin it. We all remember that deep ball to Tylan Wallace against Pitt, right? With Cornelius standing at 6’6, Mike Yurcich, or whoever our OC will be next fall, is going to ask him to play in the pocket. Our offense style likely won’t change much from this season to next if Cornelius is QB1.

Due to a combination of Mason Rudolph’s good health and the existence of JW Walsh, Taylor Cornelius has never seen important minutes. He’s played in garbage time (and played well) but we’ve never really needed Taylor Cornelius. Until now.

With Cornelius, we know exactly what we’re getting from him and from the offense. We’ve seen it. Corndog might seem like the “safe” choice at quarterback, but shit, maybe he’s just the best QB we have...

Keondre Wudtee

#11 - R-So. (2018) - 6’4 / 210lbs - Bossier City, LA

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Keondre Wudtee was reported to be battling with Taylor Cornelius for the QB2 spot. The veteran Cornelius won the spot, but many see Wudtee as a very intriguing piece going forward. His main weapon is his ability to pull it down and take off. He doesn’t have blazing straight line speed, but his combination of size and athleticism is what makes him so dangerous. He’s going to have a knack for escaping the pocket and generating big plays off of broken defenses.

There is a big question mark about Wudtee’s arm. He has a live one. He can chuck it deep, but his short throws, midrange throws and timing passes haven’t looked great throughout his very limited playing time at Oklahoma State. In order to be a successful QB in the Big 12, accuracy and confidence is something that Wudtee will have to improve on. Luckily for Keondre, accuracy and confidence usually improve with experience and more meaningful playing time.

I’m not sure if Wudtee is our long-term answer, or even a short term answer, but I think he may be able to play situationally. In 2015, the JW Walsh redzone package was one of the most devastating rezone packages in college football. In fact, we were #11 in the nation in terms of scoring percentage in the redzone. Walsh threw for 13 TD’s and ran for 13 TD’s that season. Whoever it will be, inexperienced quarterbacks sometimes struggle with a shortened field, which his why a guy like Wudtee who is dangerous on the ground and respectable through the air may be able to come in between the 20’s and make a really big impact on this team. It’s worth a look.

John Kolar

#9 - R-Jr. (2018) - 6’4 / 200lbs - Norman, OK

Oklahoma State's John Kolar (9) throws a pass during the second half of a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) and the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's John Kolar (9) throws a pass during the second half of a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) and the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
THE OKLAHOMAN

John Kolar is a bit of a mystery to me. The guy was a 4-star recruit out of Norman North High School, ranked as the #9 dual threat quarterback in the country. Despite all of the hype, we haven’t heard much from him. Before the 2017 season, many were expecting Kolar to be part of the QB2 battle, but it was reported that Cornelius and Wudtee were the two battling.

Kolar brings a similar skill set similar the one of Keondre Wudtee. He is most comfortable with his ground game. We haven’t seen much of Kolar, so it’s uncertain how much his arm has developed, but it’s not necessarily what he’s known for. My comments on Wudtee also apply for Kolar, arm accuracy and confidence are needed.

Things change year-to-year, especially with young athletes. It’s possible that Kolar will come in after a good off-season and give the others a run for their money. Who knows!

Jelani Woods

#18 - R-Fr. (2018) - 6’7 / 235lbs (? Yeah, okay.) - Ellenwood, GA

Did you think Jelani Woods wearing #18 is a coincidence? It’s not. Woods is Tyrone Swoopes reincarnated. Mr. 18-wheeler. Oklahoma State fans should remember Tyrone Swoopes well, but in case you need a reminder:

(NSFW at the end)

Jim Ross commentary over videos is one of my few passions in life btw.

Woods will be coming off his redshirt season, so he’ll have four years of eligibility for the Cowboys. Gundy told media before the 2017 season that Woods was sitting around 253 pounds, but could see him ending up around 270 pounds. Can you imagine being a 190 pound corner trying to take down a 270 pound freak of nature in the open field? No thank you. Hard pass. Hard pass.

Oklahoma State fans have yet to see Woods in action, but you can bet that the offensive coaches know that they have an Ace up the sleeve in Woods. As much as I’m interested to see the Walsh package reinstalled with Wudtee or Tracin Wallace, I NEEEEED an 18-wheeler package. Woods, King, Abbott and Finefeuiaki running downhill into a defense... That package would make defenses beg for a bye week.

Sign me up.

Tracin Wallace

#4 - R-Fr. - 6’0 / 195lbs - Fort Worth, TX

Tracin Wallace has to be a little fed up about hearing about his brother. I mean, I would be, but maybe I’m more selfish than most. Oklahoma State fans swoon over Tylan Wallace, but sometimes forget that his twin brother was a high rated prospect as well. Unfortunately, ACL injuries have kept Tracin off the field for both the South Hills Scorpions and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Pre-injury, Tracin Wallace was one of the most explosive high school football players in the DFW area. He’s a dual threat QB by nature, and probably the closest thing we have to JW Walsh on the roster. That JW Walsh package that I’ve brought up a few times definitely comes into play here for Tracin Wallace. Actually, he’s my favorite to run the package. The beauty of Walsh was his ability to catch the snap, see the hole and explode into it. No negative gains. Wudtee and Kolar are more like antelopes in the open field, but the package works best with a QB who can stay low to the ground and hit full speed in the blink of an eye. A la Wallace.

Spencer Sanders

Fr. (2018) - 6’2 / 190lbs - Denton, TX

Denton Ryan junior quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) runs the ball to keep the drive alive, Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Wylie, Texas.  Jeff Woo/DRC
Denton Ryan junior quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) runs the ball to keep the drive alive, Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Wylie, Texas. Jeff Woo/DRC
Denton Record-Chronicle

Azor Ahai, or Spencer Sanders, is the freshest face of the bunch. As a high school senior who is currently dominating the Texas 5A Football Playoffs, many are already expecting him to step in at Oklahoma State and be a factor from day 1. I am one of those people...

Don’t get me wrong, do I think Spencer Sanders is going to be our starting quarterback against Missouri State on September 1st, 2018? No. But hear me out... next season, we play Baylor right before Oklahoma. You may remember another freshman QB who burned his redshirt against Baylor, only to go on to face OU in their very first start and win it! COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!!!!

According to prophecy, our champion (Spencer Sanders) will be reborn to wake dragons (Tyron Johnson, Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner and Tylan Wallace) from stone and reforge the great sword Lightbringer (a mighty right arm) that defeated the darkness (OU) those thousands of years ago (4 years ago).

Thoros of Myr[src]

It’s in the daggum prophecy.

A lot of QB’s get tagged with the “dual threat” label because they are really just a better athlete than they are a quarterback. This is not the case for Sanders, who is truly dangerous with both his arm and his legs.

Stats so far:

He’s thrown for 3,589 yards and 51 touchdowns to just six interceptions (66.7% completion percentage). He’s also ran for 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for this kid.

CRFF Predictions:

I talked to the staff and asked around about how they thought next season’s QB situation will shake out.

Brodie Smith

The Oklahoma State Cowboys enjoy a bit of a luxury because the 2018 team still has plenty of weapons on the outside and an All-Big XII running back to vent the pressure on the new signal caller. Replacing Mason Rudolph is by no means an easy chore, but the depth and skill around whoever takes the Pokes mantle should allow for solid production. The key losses for next year come across the line, which should translate to needing a quarterback who 1)trusts the system and gets rid of the football OR 2)has maneuverability and speed that offset breaking in a new front. I'll say Keondre Wudtee gets the nod coming out of camp, not because I don't think Taylor Cornelius can handle things but because Mike Gundy won't need a Rudolph clone and can go for broke to see what he's got on down the depth chart.

Jack Dunn

As exciting Spencer Sanders has been here at the tail end of his high school career, it’s very hard for me to see him starting as a true freshman. If he came in the Spring, I would say maybe but I can’t help but think back to Wes Lunt and how talented and hyped he was despite not really being ready for power five football. Personally, I like what I’ve seen from Taylor Cornelius. He’s a guy that has a solid arm and can get out of the pocket and make a play and can step in and be comfortable immediately. Look for the oil baron to start in 2018.

Micah Allen

I think next year is going to be a battle between Keondre Wudtee and Taylor Cornelius. We'll probably see them both in the spring game. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Gundy sees things he likes in both of them and we may have a dual QB system again.

Joel Penfield

I imagine there will be an open competition throughout spring ball between all quarterbacks here on campus. However, I do not think any one of them separate themselves as “the guy.” Open competition will continue into fall camp, and now Spencer Sanders is on campus. His ability to sit back in the pocket and make throws confidently, as well as extend plays and make plays with his legs, will put him ahead of the rest. From the tape I’ve watched, he definitely plays with some swagger, dare I say kind of like Baker Mayfield (I just threw up a little bit typing that). I don’t think that Sanders will be as polarizing of a figure as Mayfield, but it is obvious how dynamic of a quarterback a guy like him can be. When Mike Yurcich (if he is the OC next season) has a guy who is a dual-threat (like JW Walsh or Clint Chelf), his play calling is a lot more creative and the offense flows better. Sanders could be a guy that runs true run/pass option plays like the offense calls for, and could make more plays with his legs than a guy like Cornelius or Wudtee could because if his speed.

If Mike Gundy decides to start Sanders to start the season, I imagine he will be on a short leash. If Gundy feels Sanders is not ready after a game or two, he could go to one of his other capable quarterbacks on the bench. A guy that should not be overlooked is Jelani Woods. At 6’7, he is a tall, intimidating presence in the pocket. Mike Gundy has talked about possibly getting him up to 270 pounds. Could you imagine trying to tackle a 6’7, 270 pound QUARTERBACK if he breaks contain and starts running downfield? As a defensive back I’d be making a business decision to get the hell out of the way. Even if he does not start, I’d love to see him in a red zone package. A la Tyrone Swoopes, make our own “18-Wheeler” package.

Me, Hoodie Pete! (13% sober. It’s about to get weird. I’m warning you now.)

I believe we very well could see four different quarterbacks play regularly. Cornelius is going to be the guy to run the majority of the offense. I think we could see an 18-wheeler package with Jelani Woods along with a Walsh package with Wudtee/Wallace. With Justice Hill looking like an All-American, our QB’s have a little bit of growing room.

I believe we cruise through the schedule until we hit Kansas State. We lose to Kansas State by a score of 17-27. Defenses are stuffing the box and none of our QB’s are getting into any rhythm. We then have a bye week, and the “Azor Ahai” whispers start to grow into soft chatter. We then take on Texas at home and get abused 10-37. Soft chatter turns into angry #okstate Twitter. Nothing is worse than angry #okstate Twitter.

The next week against Baylor, we have a slow start. Baylor still sucks, but they’re up on Oklahoma State 14-0 after the first quarter. Angry #okstate is on daggum fire. Mike Gundy’s phone is buzzing so much that it is starting to burn a hole in his pocket. Tyron Johnson is so upset that he has tucked his jersey into his pants, hiding his midriff in frustration. Justice Hill just got blown up in the backfield on a third-and-12 draw play, on his way back to the sideline, he pulls out a picture of Mason Rudolph from his helmet and sheds a single tear. Then a noise comes from the visiting section. A chant becomes clear...

“AZOR AHAI!” “AZOR AHAI!” “AZOR AHAI!”

Meanwhile, the Baylor lead has grown to 24-0 at halftime.

Mike Gundy is irate. He can’t understand how his offense was just blanked by the m——- f——— Baylor Bears. He gives a heavy sigh, and looks at Mike Yurcich. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold him back. He is the Prince who was Promised!” M.Y. looks at his feet. “He’s only a kid.” “Well, so was Mason, and look at him now! He’s a starting quarterback in the NFL!” Mike Gundy snapped back.

As Cornelius trots out to lead the offense again to start the second half, you could hear boos from the visitors section over the cackling laughter of the Baylor fans who felt like Mike Gundy was just about to hand them their first win of the season. A few first downs occur and it’s looking like the Cowboys are about to put their first points on the board. That is, until Cornelius throws an interception in the corner of the end zone.

Mike Gundy looks up to the coaches box. It’s difficult to see through the window, but he knows that Mike Yurcich is matching his stare.

“Sanders!” yells Gundy, still in a stare-off with his offensive coordinator.

The Cowboys go on to beat Baylor 31-27 after Spencer Sanders enters the game and throws for 249 yards and three TD’s. Two of the three touchdowns went to Tyron Johnson, who after his second touchdown, tucked the bottom of his jersey under his shoulder pads, started flapping his arms and flew away into the blue Texas sky. Never to be seen again.

GO POKES!