Oklahoma State Football Backup QB huge battle for Gunnar Gundy

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STILLWATER — Earlier this year, Gunnar Gundy looked around as he counted the other Oklahoma State quarterbacks in the room.

A. Of them.

Gundy was No. 3, the last number on his tally.

“It was an empty feeling there for a while,” he said.

A trio of backup passers – Shane Illingworth, Ethan Bullock and Peyton Thompson – were in the transfer gate, no longer with the team.

Only three quarterbacks remained in the spring.

That’s when Gundy realized his opportunity. A year after entering the program run by his father, Mike, as an extra, Gunnar had a real chance to be the man behind veteran Spencer Sanders.

He just had to earn the job.

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“It would be a dream come true,” Gunnar said on OSU media day. “I always wanted to be the quarterback for OSU. It’s been my all-time dream for a long time. That’s the goal.

“Winning this job would be huge and very special to me and my family and this town and my friends.”

With the Cowboys’ season opener against Central Michigan less than two weeks away, they have stability with veteran Spencer Sanders entering his fourth season as a starter. But who enters behind him remains a question mark.

Gunnar and real freshman Garret Rangel have improved greatly. There just isn’t a clear favorite for the primary save position.

“Very happy where our two are right now,” OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn said Aug. 9. “I just don’t know when it’s game day. If we can have a chance to get up and get these guys out on the pitch, that would be a godsend for us.

Gunnar has minimal experience, having featured in just one game last season. He didn’t attempt a pass in TCU’s blowout but he carried the ball once for one yard.

These two engines were crucial.

Gunnar, who played at Stillwater High, was stunned in the moment. But he got a brief sense of what the college game looks like.

“Once you step onto the grass, there are 50,000 people in the stands, and orange and black and the lights and the jumbotron,” Gunnar said. “You can’t really compensate for that in practice. It’s just something you have to experience.

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For Gunnar, it was a moment he envisioned for most of his life.

After graduating from high school in 2020, he only joined the football team in 2021. Even then, he had to gain the trust of his teammates.

What could the teammates around Gunnar even say given that Mike Gundy is his father?

“Everyone was getting used to me being their child,” Gunnar said.

Even Gunnar and Mike were getting used to their new dynamic.

Gunnar rarely talks football with Mike when they are not at OSU facilities.

“It’s extremely difficult for both of us,” Mike said. “But what I do is I stay away. I’m not there, I’m not around quarterbacks. Let him make some freshman quarterback mistakes and then let him grow and develop without me being involved there.

“I don’t know if I’m right because it’s the first time I’ve done it. I just stay away and let it all happen without really getting involved. I think that’s the best way to handle it. »

For Gunnar, that extra time with his dad adds more to being a college football player.

“It’s been more enjoyable for me on a daily basis to be around him,” Gunnar said. “I get to spend more time with my dad doing something that he loves and that I love. From my point of view, for me, it’s more special to have this moment with him.

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Gunnar, a naturally reserved person, simply works. And he got better.

Mike said Gunnar’s speed had increased. He ran a flat 4.6-second 40-yard sprint after graduating from high school with a time of about 4.85 seconds.

“I think some people didn’t really realize how fast I was to a certain extent,” Gunnar said.

With his extra speed and strong passing ability, Gunnar impressed overall. But Rangel too.

“I’m especially happy with the backup quarterbacks and the progress they’ve made,” Mike said before practice on Thursday. “My comfort level with them was 100% because they were really the new guys who tried to force their way into the action at full speed.”

Gunnar and Rangel formed a strong bond in the offseason, taking advantage of having fewer quarterbacks on the roster.

Gunnar saw his counterpart develop rapidly in less than a year after playing at Lone Star High in Frisco, Texas. Rangel has seen Gunnar become more decisive with football.

And they both benefited from it.

“We have a chance,” Gunnar said. “If something happens to Spencer, someone has to go. Just knowing mentally that it’s very possible has really improved my game and Garret’s as well.

Here’s a look at OSU’s quarterback depth chart:

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