MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If retroactive recruiting rankings are your thing, take a glimpse back at the dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2011 class.

There sat J.W. Walsh at No. 4 on the Rivals list, a few notches behind top-rated Braxton Miller and a few spots ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and and Johnny Manziel.

Even before he zoomed up the national list and achieved four-star status, Walsh caught the attention of Dana Holgorsen, the newly hired offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. It helped that Holgorsen was friends with Walsh’s dad John, the coach at Denton Guyer High School, about a half-hour’s drive north of Dallas.

As OSU head coach Mike Gundy recounted this week, Holgorsen wanted to make Walsh’s recruitment a priority, and once the kid wound up committing in February 2010, he became the only quarterback the Cowboys signed in the following year’s class.

“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. “(Holgorsen) was the one that pushed the envelope early.

“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.”

Come Saturday at high noon, Holgorsen—lured away to West Virginia before Walsh enrolled—finally gets to face the quarterback he helped lure to Oklahoma State. Walsh was sidelined with fractured right knee when WVU lost 55-34 in Stillwater last season, an injury with an astonishing backstory that only bolsters Holgorsen’s initial perception of Walsh.

“He’s a winner,” said Holgorsen. “Being a coach’s kid, watching him win (high school) games with the intangibles he has, you could see that on the sidelines and in practice. You can take those guys and make their skills better, and obviously they have.”

See what Cowboys coaches and players said about WVU.

Despite the knee injury that shelved Walsh for three games, he closed 2012 with a 170.11 quarterback rating that was the fourth-best ever for an FBS freshman. (The company ahead of him in that class included Michael Vick and Sam Bradford.) He completed 66 percent of his passes, posted a 13-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, threw for 1,564 yards and ran for another 290 yards and seven scores.

In three games this fall, Walsh’s completion rate exceeds 70 percent and his yards per carry has climbed from 5.8 to 7.3. And while lacking NFL arm strength, he displays superb touch and anticipation, allowing him to make enough downfield throws to prevent secondaries from suffocating the Cowboys’ quick-screen game.

Walsh is the picture of efficiency on an offense that couldn’t be more statistically efficient—at least not in the red zone, where the Cowboys have 15 touchdowns in 15 trips. No stat better exemplifies Walsh’s knack for exploiting small creases with the read-option.

The breakdown on those red-zone TDs: five passing and 10 rushing.

Scooting through the line on draws and option keepers, Walsh leads OSU in rushing at 60.7 yards per game. He also owns the Cowboys longest run from scrimmage at 46 yards, which came against Mississippi State (not some cheapie against UT-San Antonio or Lamar).

But how does his elusiveness compare to Oklahoma’s tandem of Trevor Knight (seven carries for 42 yards) and Blake Bell (two for 21) or Maryland’s C.J. Brown (14 for 26 yards)?

“He’s no faster than the Oklahoma kid, he’s no faster than the Maryland kid,” said WVU linebacker Jared Barber. “It’s good that we already played two quarterbacks who can also run, so I think we’ll handle it pretty well.”

Oklahoma State has committed one turnover this season, remarkable ball security for a squad that has run 222 plays.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich—plucked by Gundy from, of all places, Division II Shippensburg University in February—couldn’t have asked for a better start, though he’s wary of jinxing it.

“You kind of feel like you’re in the dugout in the eighth inning, and you don’t want to talk about the no-hitter,” he said.

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  • Dave

    It looks like Clint Trickett will get the start. It appears Ford Childress is injured and hasn't practiced all week.

  • Ron_Jeremy

    Clint will lead us to an upset victory this weekend. Many fans will forget about the UMD game by week 12. I still can't figure out why we didn't go with an experienced QB from the start-- especially with an offense that only takes a few days to install per Mr. Red Bull

    Clint sorta reminds me of myself when I transitioned from one type of work to another type (VHS to DVD).

    Go Trick !!!! Lets Go Mountaineers !!!!

  • unclec

    I still say more home state boys. Look at all the major college teams and the number of in state players. Get them to motown build them up. More heart and w v pride.Now look at the number of coaches that have been at wv snd are head coaches now, how are they doing?

    • Chet Ubetcha

      That is a terrible strategy, do you know how many high D-1 players WV actually produced last year? The correct answer is 2, and one of them is generous as they went to Ohio. They aren't even starters, so how can you build a team with an average of 4 players a year?

      • unclec

        Well how have we done with all the out of state players? The number of stars by a players name does not mean a single thing. It has to do with heart and how much he will give.

  • chad

    I will never understand peoples hatred for Oliver Luck. I cannot think a better man for the AD job at WVU. He is an alumus, former starting QB, and an accomplished business man in the sports world. I guess he has done to much to move the program into the 21st Century and people fear that change. Or maybe people just like to hear themselves gripe.

    • Shadow

      One reason, I like basketball better than football and Luck dissed it. Basketball has had more success than football ever. Forgot,the Rifle Team, a real winner, and the sport is not in the Big 12. I think you mean back to the 20th Century.

    • GoEers


      The hatred for Oliver luck comes from non WVU fans who are jealous of the fact he was able to get them out of the Big East and into the Big 12 thus securing WVU's future as a member of one of the Big 5 Conferences. They hate the fact that WVU wasn't left for dead when the smoke from realignment cleared. They hate the fact that WVU will be making $35 million additional revenue from the moves that he has made. These same people that bash Luck are the same ones that used to bash WVU becasue they thought was stuck in what they called the Little East. These jealous losers will always look for something negative to say about WVU in order to make themselves feel better about the sorry schools that they cheer for.

      Personally I like when these trolls post on WVU articles. It just goes to show how relevant WVU athletics is. It's the only game in town.

      • Brad

        These are the same people that said the same about RichRod after his 2nd & 3rd loss in the same year to MD...& up until that UofL game..

        But where very quick to forgive & forget after the UGA game & we had TWO good seasons... But they don't remember 1994-2003 what happened in those years?? A steady dose of 7-3/6-4/5-5....

        & let's give the university a reputation of firing coaches after 3yrs in a top conference with 5-6 really good consistent teams? & those same people must not realize the recruiting problems WVU has... Yeah we got Tavon & Geno....
        But not Tajh Boyd? Why not? & we got Pat White because LSU did not want him as a QB (which was his 1st choice)... But who else? We were getting 2* & 3* O & D lineman. The 4 & 5 * guys wanna play B1G & SEC football..

        But this years guys are really good.. We do have a lot of really good lineman & backers.... But a few have redshirted & those who haven't are really young & need a few games to get it...... But why am I wasting my time typing this crap out? Most of those people do not understand recruiting & D-1 football... They just want instant wins & no building years.... So if we do fire Holgs after this season, & the next guy only has what 3yrs & should dominate or else armchair AD's, coaches & QB's will be mad..

        • Janem

          @ Brad .... I agree

  • Dave

    Give Holgorsen some time to get it turned around. He cleaned house and brought in some new coaches and some good talent. It takes time.

  • GoEers

    James...what excuses have you heard out of both Luck and Holgorsen? Please provide direct quotes. Also how do you know that Luck is a drunk? Do you have any proof or are you just making an idiotic statement because you are probably not even a WVU fan. You're probably one of those typical jealous Marshall trolls. You are pathetic!

    • James

      Actually Goerrs, I've lived in mtsbg, wv my whole life, played football and set numerous records in football at martinsburg high school in 1997, had the state record for total yards and passing touch downs until JR House broke my records, so before you sprout off out the mouth, know your facts dummy, truth hurts, your prolly that guy who never played a sport in your life, I on the other hand was first team all state in football,basketball, baseball, by the way I won a state baseball championship as a freshman, batting average was 815 as a freshman, drink some more of danas koolaid

      • GoEers


        I don't see where I asked you to relive your glory days in high school. I asked you for proof to back up your statement that Oliver Luck is a drunk. Either answer the question, or go back to your bedroom in your parents house and put on your 1997 lettermen's jacket and keep reminiscing about how great of an athlete you were. From the stupid things you say, it doesn't sound like you've made much of yourself since those high school days.

  • Bryan

    For all those who do not like the situation at WVU take your ball and go home. Just do us sensible fans a favor though and stay there when this coaching staff and these players reach their potential, get things turned around and starts winning.

    • tw eagle

      you must be related to the guy in the movie "the natural" ... that guy "management" brought in to teach "positive thinking" to try and talk the team into winning ... holgersons line ... "think positive, we're this close" ... well the D HAS arrived , but the O has been stalled by hitching up to the wrong horse ... there are better options available in Morgantown than the hall of famer under center we're all just waiting for to become a competent D1 player ... my suggestion is for some media to get together and sit down with conner arlia and get an inside look on what is "happening" to the WVU program

    • Rick

      That is an excellent idea, Bryan.

      If everybody who does not like the current situation at WVU would go (or stay) home, then the 40,000 ensuing empty seats at the football stadium would do wonders to alleviate the traffic problems on game days.