All cameras and cellphones were pointed at the line of green jerseys.
Sitting at the front of the stretching was the man Mike Gundy anointed as “our guy” a few weeks earlier. Behind him, his challengers.
Taylor Cornelius is the guy replacing Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State, but Gundy and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich have made it known the past two weeks that he still must maintain the job. Especially now that two new contenders have joined the fold for fall camp that started Thursday.
Freshman four-star quarterback Spencer Sanders – who has been on campus since June – and Dru Brown, a graduate transfer from the University of Hawaii who arrived in Stillwater on Sunday, drew just as much attention at their first official practice at Oklahoma State as the man slated to take over under center for a the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-round draft pick. However, neither of the newcomers were allowed to talk to the media – per a program rule – while Gundy left shortly into practice for a Cowboy Caravan in Altus, and coordinators were not made available to the media, either.
“Everyone is excited to get back out here and stuff. I enjoyed it,” Cornelius said. “There was a lot of energy and fire, and it was a good day for both sides of the ball.”
Cornelius led the drills early in the practice that was open to the media, and according to Gundy at Big 12 Media Days the redshirt senior would get the bulk of the work with the first-team offense. With his understanding of practices and the offense already, it allowed Yurcich to work a little more hands-on with the newcomers during drills.
But that doesn’t mean the Bushland, Texas, native isn’t being complacent as the projected starter.
“You start screwing up, it’s the next man up,” Cornelius said. “Nobody’s locked in.”
While Thursday marked the first organized practice with the new quarterbacks, the returning players still got a chance to workout with Sanders throughout the summer.
It was to the point where the receivers had their time split between the quarterbacks on campus.
“It was very busy,” redshirt junior wide receiver Tyron Johnson said. “Every day in between class, we threw with either (Cornelius) or Sanders. We were always getting work in. It was very busy, trying to get that timing down before we came out here and build that chemistry.”
Speaking with the media for the first time since Gundy announced his backup quarterback from a year ago would be the starter “heading into August,” Cornelius couldn’t hold back smiles to nearly every question asked.
But according to his teammates, that’s just Cornelius.
“He’s more quiet than Mason. He’s going to lead by example and make the plays,” Johnson said. “… He’s very quiet, but he’s a great leader. I think he’s comfortable.
“He’s not going to let the cameras and bright lights derail him. I think
he’s going to be a great quarterback for us.”
Though he understands the incoming quarterbacks are gunning for him, he also had a role model in Rudolph that has made it apparent to Cornelius that he has two jobs in Stillwater – preparing himself, as well as preparing the future of the position once he’s gone.
“I’m trying to do the same thing he did – stay late with the guys, help them out in meetings, talk to them during practice,” Cornelius said. “At the same time, they’re doing the same thing with me if they see something else.”