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Handicapping the Imminent QB Battle at Oklahoma State



There’s a major positional battle on our hands at Oklahoma State.

For the first time since 2013, the Cowboys will head into fall camp searching for answers on who will start the season at football’s most valuable position.

After three consecutive seasons in which OSU had its man in Mason Rudolph, the answer could be any of three leading candidates, ranging from a high-schooler from Texas to a graduate transfer from Hawaii. Who wins the gig will get the keys to one of the most explosive offenses in the country. But more importantly, 2018’s QB1 may also set OSU in a number of different directions that impact results far beyond this season.

Let’s take a look at the candidates and handicap the contenders.

Seasoned veteran

To complement the roster of inexperienced QB’s, Oklahoma State is bringing in Hawaii graduate transfer Dru Brown. Brown amassed more than 5,000 yards passing over the last two seasons, and despite a diminutive 6-foot frame, completed more than 62 percent of his passes for the Rainbow Warriors.

Brown is a mobile QB who reminds me a lot of Spencer Sanders (who we’ll get to shortly) in that he can make people miss in the open field, but he doesn’t have an instant twitch to tuck and run. He uses his mobility to create passing lanes and does a good job of finding receivers downfield.

Likelihood to begin season as QB1: 30%

Likelihood to finish season as starter: 15%

Young star

Spencer Sanders is the name everyone is most intrigued by, and with good reason. The four-star prospect from Denton Ryan was an electric gun-slinger at the high school level who can do it all — pass, run, hurdle, you name it.

The downside for Sanders is that he did not enroll early, so he’ll get a late jump on the battle by arriving later this summer. But I’m still on #TeamSpencer regardless — I think if he doesn’t win the QB1 job outright before Game 1, he’ll have done so by the time Big 12 play rolls around. He’s too talented to sideline.

If Sanders does win the gig, it impacts OSU’s immediate and long term in terms of recruiting and upside. Does he give OSU its best chance to win 10 games in 2018? Maybe, maybe not. Does he give OSU its best chance to be elite in 2019, 2020 and beyond? Unequivocally that answer is yes, especially because Brown and Cornelius are gone after 2018. If the battle is even close, I say start building for the future right away.

Likelihood to begin season as QB1: 35%

Likelihood to finish season as starter: 65%

Familiar name

Taylor Cornelius has paid his dues at Oklahoma State living in the shadow of Mason Rudolph. He’s gone from walk-on to scholarship player, and in the spring, he was the only QB who could move the offense with any sense of purpose.

If he is QB1 in 2018, the offense will be fine in his capable hands. He’s got a strong arm, good mobility, and knows the offense better than any QB on the roster. That counts for something, and it’s why I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start the first game of the season. But again, if Sanders is close to being ready, I think Cornelius could have a short leash and OSU hits the full reset with its young star.

Likelihood to begin season as QB1: 35%

Likelihood to finish season as starter: 20%

The rest

The “other guys” list starts — and likely ends — with Keondre Wudtee, a mobile QB who was serviceable in spurts last season. A redshirt sophomore from Louisiana, he’s more of a dual-threat, run-first option who, in a perfect world, could find a tailor-made goal-line package to get him involved.

The only other QB on the roster is John Kolar, a 6-6 QB who, like Cornelius, has been on the roster and paid his dues. Unlike Cornelius, however, Kolar hasn’t quite showed the same flashes of being capable of quarterbacking an efficient offense. For that reason, I have him bringing up the caboose in the QB battle this fall.

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