Ten years apart.
That's the difference between Oklahoma State's last quarterback, 28-year-old Brandon Weeden and his successor, 18-year-old Wes Lunt, who was announced as starter Thursday.
You'd probably be hard-pressed to find another scenario where two starters were so different in age. The Cowboys go from the wiley veteran to the kid a month and a half removed from his high school graduation, but he must have shown coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken something special to be given the keys to a team that nearly played for a national title last year.
"We had to make a decision based on what we thought was best for our offense to score points and then give us the best chance to win football games," Gundy said in a statement. "All three players had good springs, but at some point the decision is made on the field. There's always a comment about who coaches are going to name as the starter at any position, but the coaches usually don't make that decision -- the decision is made by the players. Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring."
Lunt graduated high school early and enrolled at Oklahoma State in the spring to compete for the starting quarterback spot. He outdueled junior-to-be Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh to become — as it stands now — the first true freshman to ever start the season opener for the Cowboys and the first true freshman starter since Tone Jones in 1993.
"I'm overwhelmed," Lunt said. "It's such a humbling experience. Coming in early, I knew I had a chance to compete for the job and to get it is just overwhelming. I know that we're still going to compete through summer and two-a-days, so it's not over."
The main reason Lunt won the starting job is because there wasn't a noticeable dropoff from where Weeden left the team. As a senior, Lunt threw for 3,650 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions and carried that same offensive zest to Stillwater.
"We like our system. We like the ability to play fast," Gundy said. "We like the ability to throw the ball down the field effectively but also run the football. Wes gives us the best opportunity to stay consistent with our style of play."
Giving Lunt the starting nod sets the Cowboys up nicely for the future. Provided everything goes according to plan, Lunt will be a sophomore when all of the conference's top quarterbacks - Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Kansas State's Collin Klein, West Virginia's Geno Smith and Texas Tech's Seth Doege — have moved on. While 2012 isn't expected to be a down year for the Cowboys, fans should be very excited for 2013 and beyond. This is going to be a loaded Oklahoma State team with a fiery offense that should challenge for a BCS bowl or whatever the postseason ends up being in a couple years.
There might be some bumps along the way this year — Lunt is, after all, a freshman — but if Gundy and Monken believe in him then OSU fans should as well. Gundy seems to have a pretty good track record with this whole quarterbacking thing.