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Lunt's surprising exit leaves clarity at OSU

5/10/2013

The math didn't quite add up, even as there were few indications that any of Oklahoma State's three quarterbacks was considering a transfer from Stillwater.

J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt were both highly sought recruits, but only one could be the Cowboys' full-time starter. Before both were injured last season, Clint Chelf looked like he was following former Missouri signal-caller Chase Patton on a road sometimes traveled: Talented, in-state kid settles for career backup status.

Chelf was the Pokes' No. 3 this time last year. Now he's a near sure thing as their starter.

A year after Lunt precociously won a starting quarterback job as a true freshman, he pulled another surprise Thursday by announcing he would transfer. He was the only Illinois native on the roster, recruited by fellow Illinoisan Todd Monken, who left his post as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator to become head coach at Southern Miss. That exit surely influenced Lunt's decision. Coach Mike Gundy's indications that Chelf would retain the job he inherited because of injury last season, and kept with strong play down the stretch, couldn't have helped, either.

Lunt likely feels he can compete elsewhere, but with three seasons of eligibility left and his main recruiter gone, he didn't feel like he had enough to keep him in Stillwater.

In some ways, it's a head-scratching decision that has to be rooted in Lunt's desire to move closer to home. Chelf will be a senior next season, and Lunt is clearly a more refined passer than Walsh, who earned a niche in OSU's offense as part of a short-yardage package that often featured Walsh running.

After next season, Lunt would have been a heavy favorite to beat out Walsh for the job. Of the three quarterbacks who each threw for 1,000 yards for the Cowboys last season, Walsh would seem the most likely to be looking for an exit.

Now he looks like Oklahoma State's clear starter for 2014 and 2015, barring injury to Chelf this fall. Oklahoma State had the luxury of three quarterbacks who could still make the Pokes a legitimate Big 12 contender. There was some confusion and controversy about who would get the chance to do it, but it was a problem most Big 12 coaches would love to have.

That issue's gotten simpler for Gundy, but it's still never good to see talent walk out the door, no matter how much is left on the roster.