As we look forward to signing day and spring practice, the job of QB1 may be the one with the least questions surrounding it. Mason Rudolph played very well down the stretch and put up some big numbers, even while sharing reps with backup and red zone specialist J.W. Walsh. Rudolph is the guy, and he should be.
But what about his backup for next year? How will the depth chart look at QB, and will we see any new faces?
If you're reading this and wondering "Who cares about the backup quarterback spot?" then you either A) didn't watch any Oklahoma State football this season (or from seasons '12-'14) or B) are way more optimistic about the development of the running game than I am.
Without a dramatic improvement in run blocking or the second coming of Barry Sanders (different topic there), Gundy will likely try to lean on a similar scheme to one he ran this year. That is, he would love to, if he has the personnel. So let's look at the candidates to back up Rudolph and if there is a viable option to plug into this two quarterback system.
This article is going to be based on the likely premise that J.W. Walsh does not receive a medical hardship waiver and will instead probably be a graduate assistant for the Pokes in 2016.
Current Cowboys QB's
If we look at the current depth chart for this year, Taylor Cornelius would be the next man up to fill J.W. Walsh's shoes. Next season he will be a redshirt sophomore with two years in the system. He played some garbage time in the KU game, which tells us pretty much nothing. The most noteworthy thing we learned about him this season is that Mike Gundy can't remember his name.
In 2014, Cornelius spent his redshirt year on the scout team. His senior season at Bushland HS (Texas Class 2A), he passed for an impressive 3,815 yards and 46 touchdowns. However, he doesn't really pose much of a rushing threat and it's doubtful that he ends up at QB2. But who knows? Stranger things have happened.
The most obvious guess for backup currently on the roster would be John Kolar. The Norman North product will be coming off his redshirt season and will hopefully have put on some weight coming into spring. At 6'4" and 190 pounds, Rob Glass has some work to do.
As the first commitment of the 2015 class, Kolar enrolled early enough to participate in spring ball. That means he's had a full year in the system soaking up knowledge from Walsh, Rudolph and the coaching staff.
Kolar was ranked as the No. 3 pocket passer in the nation as a recruit, throwing for 2,292 yards and 23 touchdowns his senior year. Although he was listed as a pro-style quarterback, he showed that we was not afraid to run it, taking off 95 times for 524 yards and five touchdowns.
But like I said, unless he can beef up a bit, he may want to think twice before he tries to tuck and run past some of the linebackers that he will face in the Big 12. He's probably not the next Walshing Machine. Only time will tell how well he develops or if he ends up being the starting QB of the future.
So what about a QB that is not currently on the roster?
Following the decommitment of Nick Starkel, the Cowboys made late pitches to two quarterback recruits: Devon Modster and Keondre Wudtee. Modster is a 4 star pro-style prospect who decommitted from Arizona after receiving an offer from OSU. Wudtee is 3 star dual-threat and former LaTech commit who also reopened his recruiting after hearing from the Pokes. If either one of them decides to take his talents to Stillwater it would be huge. But since they would most likely redshirt next year, we'll consider both to be non-factors in this equation.
There has been some talk that Colorado State backup Coleman Key may end up in Stillwater. The Broken Arrow (OK) product was granted a full release after losing the starting job in an apparently fierce QB battle that went late into fall camp. He would be a good prospect but, again, is more of a pocket passer and probably wouldn't fit into the J.W. mold.
The Cowboys probably had the best possible candidate to replace Walsh on the roster this season. Juco transfer Todd Mays was listed as a running back on the depth chart but played quarterback at his previous stop. His athleticism and versatility are what enticed OSU. Unfortunately, Mays suffered an injury in the spring and ended up leaving the program during the 2015 season on his own accord.
There is still a lot that can happen with this recruiting class, but unless something changes I really don't see another red zone/run threat QB ready to contribute next season.
Walsh brought not only athleticism but a complete understanding of the offense. His leadership and locker room presence are the stuff of legend. With a still developing offense line and questions at running back, we may find out just how much the Cowboys miss J.W.