For Oklahoma State to achieve a successful season, it will be with the help of true freshmen and first-year starters.
The latest depth chart, released Thursday, is full of players who have seen minimal experience at the collegiate level. Quarterback Wes Lunt is the most talked about newcomer, but three true freshmen are listed as backups at receiver. With Devin Hedgepeth and Andrae May still recovering from ACL injuries, true freshman Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin are behind Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert at cornerback.
These players have proven in fall camp they are already capable of prominent playing time in the Big 12. It’s easy to think they will replicate their skills seen in camp into games, but it’s not always the case.
“Practice is one thing and games are another,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “We think as coaches we have a pretty good idea what is going to happen. We hope that comes true, but we will know when we get a month in to the season.”
The fear of the unknown will always exist in the back of a coaches’ mind before any season opener, and this season it involves the on-field decision-maker on offense. Lunt appears to have the leadership, the poise and the talent to handle challenges. But eight months removed from his high school graduation, the game day uncertainty is amplified.
“I don’t know yet (how he carries himself),” OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “We haven’t played anybody yet. He may not carry himself worth a darn. He has a calm demeanor. He is a very squared away kid. He does things the right way. Underneath all of that you don’t really know. How do you really know?
“Picking out your wife, the most beautiful one isn’t always the one for you. On the surface she is hot, but you don’t know anything else about her.”
It was always going to be a risk for OSU behind center. Backups J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf have never started a game either, something Monken noted. Someone was going to have to replace Brandon Weeden, and results are going to be unpredictable.
Monken said it would take an entire season to fairly evaluate Lunt in case he struggles, but if Lunt and the other first-year starters are successful, Monken will experience what he loves best about his job.
“This is the fun part,” Monken said. “How do we develop these guys? “How do we figure it out? That’s the puzzle. That’s what you do for a living. That’s what they pay us to do.”