Decision could be soon for Oklahoma State transfer QB Wes Lunt
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he race to land former Oklahoma State quarterback West Lunt could be a nearing an end.
Southern Miss, Vanderbilt and Tennessee were also possible destinations, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy did not grant Lunt a full release, effectively blocking his from transfer to any school in the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 as well as Southern Miss and Central Michigan.
Gundy’s reasoning was that the SEC and Pac-12 schools could be Cowboys opponents in future bowls, while Central Michigan is on Oklahoma State’s 2015 schedule. Southern Miss, now coached by former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken, was considered a likely destination. Monken, like Lunt, is an Illinois native and originally recruited him to OSU.
Lunt could file an appeal of Gundy’s restrictions and his family has considered that option, but that is thought to be unlikely at this point.
According to a tweet by ESPN’s Joe Schad, Notre Dame could also get involved following Everett Golson’s academic suspension, but a source tells us that is also unlikely.
Lunt is from Rochester, in central Illinois, just ninety miles from Champaign. He grew up pulling for the Illni.
This season, Nathan Scheelhaase, the Illini’s three-year starting quarterback, will play his final year of eligibility as Lunt sits out due of NCAA transfer rules. Lunt’s strong, accurate arm is ideal for new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit’s spread offense, and barring injury, he would be all but guaranteed the job in 2014.
As Western Michigan’s head coach, Cubit offered Lunt a scholarship out of high school. Head coach Tim Beckman was Gundy’s defensive coordinator Oklahoma State from 2007-08 and no doubt has connections in Stillwater that put in a good word.
On paper, Illinois looks like a natural fit, but after a 2-10 first season, there were already whispers that Beckman might be on thin ice. That lack of stability could be an issue.
But Beckman has worked hard to establish in-state recruiting roots and relationships with Illinois high school coaches — something his Ron Turner and Ron Zook did not do — and has made an impression on Lunt’s high school coach, Derek Leonard. Lunt told Gundy he was transferring because he wanted to be closer to home, and there will be at least some pressure to play for the “home team” that didn’t exist when he was being recruited out of high school.
The Louisville situation is much more stable, but the path to playing time might be a little less clear.
Coming off an 11-2 season and a Sugar Bowl win, Charlie Strong turned down overtures from Tennessee and others and was awarded a long-term contract. While there’s a good possibility Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will depart for the NFL after his junior year, he will have another year of eligibility after this season.
Behind Bridgewater, redshirt freshman Will Gardner and junior Brett Nelson are battling for the No. 2 job. Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson reportedly likes both Gardner, who chose the Cardinals over an offer from Alabama out of high school, and Nelson, a junior college transfer who arrived in January. Both played well this spring.
In Lunt’s only season at Oklahoma State, he was the first true freshman to start a season opener since at least 1950 but then had a rookie campaign marred by injuries.
On the Cowboys’ first drive against Louisiana-Lafayette in mid-September, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Lunt dislocated his kneecap and a sprained his ankle on the same play. Then in early November, he was knocked out of the Kansas State game with a concussion. He didn’t play again until late in the fourth quarter of the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Lunt finished the season with 1,180 passing yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions in five starts. He set a Big 12 single-game freshman record with 436 passing yards against Arizona.
This spring, Lunt battled Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh for the starting job, three of whom won games as a starter in 2012. Lunt told reporters that he was willing to redshirt in 2013 if Chelf, a senior who took over after he went down against Kansas State, won the job.
Gundy decided not to name a starter, and has said he may not even do so before the season opener against Mississippi State.
Lunt reportedly grew frustrated by what he felt was a lack of communication from the coaching staff. He told Leonard, his high school coach, that none of the quarterbacks knew where they stood with the coaches, and even after speaking to them about the possibility of redshirting, the staff didn’t communicate to him which direction they wanted go.
He announced his decision to transfer on May 9.
Photo credit: Brody Schmidt / AP