With coaches having limited contact with players during the summer, it falls on the players themselves to continue to work out and prevent from regressing.
For Oklahoma State, it is a unique situation with the typical leader of a team — the quarterback — being a true freshman in Wes Lunt. While Mike Gundy’s squad had a leader in Brandon Weeden last summer, it’s fallen on all the veteran players to make sure the team is progressing over the summer months.
“The veteran players, when we have our final meetings before summer break, the players practice on their own — just like everybody else in the country,” Gundy said Tuesday during the Big 12 football media days in Dallas. “The Joe Randles, the Jeremy Smiths, Justin Gilberts, Robert Browns, Lane (Taylor), Cooper Bassetts — all those guys — they have to lead the way. And then Wes Lunt is put in the situation that he has to structure and organize how things go during those workouts.
“But the veteran players have to be the ones to say, ‘You’re going to be on time. This is what we’re going to accomplish. This is what we’ve done the last few years.’”
Bassett, a senior defensive end, added, “Us upperclassmen know how to win. We won last year, we’ve won the last couple of years. So we have to translate our knowledge of what it takes to all these young guys, who are going to need to step up and be playmakers for us this year.”
For Taylor, the top returning offensive lineman, his veteran role is even more important since his position is tied in with the quarterback.
“It’s different, having such a young guy back there. I think it’s about the youngest guy I’ve ever played with,” Taylor said. “But he’ll do good things out there.”
Taylor has gotten to work a little with Lunt during the summer, with some seven-on-seven workouts against the defense.
The veteran offensive lineman said it has been a positive for the team having a starter named before summer workouts.
“Typically, with some teams in the pas,t having that juggling act at quarterback hasn’t worked out as well,” Taylor said. “And I think it puts everybody at ease and keeps people focused.”
Helping the team even more has been Lunt’s performance during spring practices and over the summer.
“I’ve seen consistency from him. He goes out there and he does well,” Taylor said. “He doesn't mess up too much.”
As for Gundy, he hasn’t been keeping tabs, except for how his freshman quarterback’s conditioning has been going with OSU strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass.
“I haven’t heard anything other than his conditioning has been good, I don’t ask anything from an X’s and O’s standpoint,” Gundy said. “But I know he’s up to 220 (pounds) now and is conditioned — and he wasn’t when he arrived. That will benefit his performance in August, I think.”
Gundy said he has been happy with his decision to name a starting quarterback at the end of spring practice.
“Once you make a decision you can’t look back anyway. We didn’t want to have a quarterback race or controversy going throughout the summer, so we accomplished that,” Gundy said. “Now we need to get him to play well and follow up on it.’’
OSU opens its season Sept. 1 with Savannah s State.
Elmquist is the Stillwater NewsPress sports editor