Cowboys QB got career boost from Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Had it been up to much of Oklahoma State's coaching staff, J.W. Walsh would not be the starting quarterback today when the Cowboys play West Virginia at Mountaineer Field.
In fact, he wouldn't even be on the OSU roster.
That he is is largely because of West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
During his one season as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator in 2010, Holgorsen went out looking for quarterbacks to run his offense in the future. When he came across Walsh in Texas, the kid just didn't seem to fit the mold.
He was largely a running quarterback.
"He's a winner,'' Holgorsen said. "He falls in the long line of Texas high school coaches' kids. Every intangible you want a quarterback to have, he has.''
That's why Holgorsen wanted Walsh and why he convinced Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy to take him out of Denton Guyer High School, where Walsh's father, John, is the head coach.
"It was just watching him win games and getting kids to rally around him,'' Holgorsen said. "You can see it on the sidelines, you can see it in practice and in games and it resulted in a whole lot of wins. I think you can take those guys and you can make their skills better. And obviously they have.''
Gundy was skeptical.
"We knew about J.W., but Dana kind of pushed the issue with him, and his relationship with Coach Walsh was really good,'' Gundy said. "From there, when we saw his tape and his history of being a winner, it didn't really take much to convince us to bring him in, but he was the one that pushed the envelope early.''
Walsh was part of a three-man quarterback rotation for the Cowboys last year, one that was prompted as much by injuries as anything else. This year, after one of those quarterbacks, Wes Lunt, transferred, Walsh beat out Clint Chelf for the starting job.
Through three games, Walsh has completed 70 percent of his 84 passes for five touchdowns, one interception and an average of 214 yards per game. Just as significantly, he is also OSU's leading rusher with 182 yards.
"The offense that we still run is the offense that [Holgorsen] brought here, even though we've tweaked it a bunch and added our own nuances over the years,'' said Walsh. "He was a character. People talk about his coaching style, but he was definitely a lot of fun to get recruited by and talk to, and I know he's a great coach.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.