The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

November 17, 2012

Chelf deserves to start against Tech

ENID, Okla. — “If you stay, you’ll play.’’

Those were legendary Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer’s words to his players during his reign in the 1970s and 1980s and they still hold true today.

Enid’s Clint Chelf is Exhibit 1.

He had all kinds of reasons to leave Oklahoma State early, but didn’t.

• He was playing behind future Cleveland Browns No. 1 draft pick Brandon Weeden for two years.

• Weeden leaves and he’s behind true freshman Wes Lunt and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, going from No. 2 to No. 3.

But instead of complaining and packing his bags, he kept working — even throwing passes to his mother in Enid during the summer.

And lo and behold, both Lunt and Walsh go down with injuries, giving Chelf his chance to play.

Even if he doesn’t start another game at OSU, Chelf will have the memories of impressing a national television audience coming off the bench for Lunt against Kansas State and then throwing for 292 yards and four touchdowns in a win over West Virginia

The respect his teammates showed for him after West Virginia, demonstrated he could rally a team.

Which is why — showing maybe a hometown bias — Chelf should get the chance to start against Texas Tech in OSU’s home finale.

First, he’s healthy. The media and fans can only speculate about the health of Lunt and Walsh, both of whom suited up, but didn’t play against West Virginia.

Certainly Chelf at 100 percent could give the Cowboys a better chance to beat the Red Raiders than Lunt and Walsh if they weren’t completely healthy. Why risk injury to your quarterbacks of the future if you don’t have to?

If Lunt and Walsh are both at 100 percent, that would be a different story, but who knows?  A few weeks ago Walsh was supposed to be out for the season.

Second, keep the continuity. Chelf’s biggest strength so far has been his consistency. At times Lunt has shown the arm and poise which won him the starting job, but against Kansas State, he showed his inexperience.

In his fourth year in the program, Chelf has shown he knows the offense and doesn’t panic. He played his best football last week after the Mountaineers moved to within striking distance.

The third reason: His teammates are rallying for him and will play hard for him. Not to say they won’t for Lunt or Walsh, but this might be an intangible  that goes beyond statistics.

The most important thing about Chelf is he is on course to graduate on time. That’s what he went to OSU for in the first place.

He’s gotten a chance to play with his brother Colton, now a graduate assistant at OSU. He was apart of OSU’s first-ever Big 12 championship team.

Chelf grew up a Cowboys fan. He originally had committed to Tulsa, where he probably would have had a chance at more playing time. The lure of playing for OSU was too much for him to pass up.

“OSU is going to become a powerhouse, and I want to be a part of that,’’ said Chelf after committing to OSU.

He might even appreciate that even more 20 years from now when he’s remembered as the one who stayed. Think of all the Texas quarterbacks who transferred because they weren’t starting immediately.

But he’s always been known for his character. That showed in his senior season at EHS when he wore No. 20 in Enid’s home opener against Sapulpa in honor of teammate Brett Kenaga, who had blown out his knee in a scrimmage against Jenks.

He then honored him by going 8 of 14 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-16 EHS victory. He rushed for 53 yards, including a three-yard TD run.

OSU then quarterback coach Robert Matthews predicted a bright future for Chelf in 2009 when he visited Enid as part of the Cowboys Caravan. Chelf had come to the event after just finishing his running. Matthews joked when he asked if he had taken a shower.

“We think he can be a dual threat quarterback,’’ Matthews said of Chelf. “He has the ability to throw the ball and be a very accurate passer. We think he can pull it down and run the ball as well.

“You take those two characteristics, plus the fact that he’s a very intelligent kid and we have a really good football player coming to Oklahoma State.’’

He’s lived up to that.

Hopefully, he'll get to show it again today.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.

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