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QB Roadmap: OSU is Bowman's team, but Flores could emerge before expected

Feb. 2—During last season's early three-quarterback experiment, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was asked about the possibility of throwing his true freshman, Zane Flores, into the mix.

"He's got a tremendous future ahead of him here...but he's not ready," Gundy said during an August press conference.

Flores was a star at Gretna High School in Nebraska — 9,163 career yards to go along with 82 passing touchdowns and 29 rushing touchdowns. He did not appear in a game during his first year at Oklahoma State. Next season might be a different story.

The expectation is for Alan Bowman to start at quarterback for the season opener against South Dakota State, especially given the way things unfolded down the stretch last season, leading OSU to its second Bedlam win in three years and appearing in the Big 12 championship game. The SDSU game would be career start No. 27, and his first pass attempt will be his 1,226th overall.

An extra offseason of reps and chemistry building with receivers will help Bowman vastly heading into his seventh and final year playing college football, and it seems that he will be the guy going into 2024.

However, there is a scenario where both Bowman and Flores play. We've seen it work before under Gundy's coaching.

During 2015's fever-dream-esque 10-0 start, it was clear that two QBs can work, as long as it's done right.

Mason Rudolph was the young gunslinger, the between-the-20s guy. J.W. Walsh was the experienced, dual-threat vet that primarily took snaps in goal-to-go situations or when a kickstart was needed. It worked masterfully.

That season, OSU ranked No. 10 in the country in red zone scoring, scoring on 91.2 percent of trips. That was the highest red zone scoring percentage for the Cowboys since 2010.

Something similar could play out next year, but flipped.

It's a situation that could be comparable to Kansas State's quarterback situation last year with Will Howard, who was eventually mixed with Avery Johnson. It was apparent early that Johnson could be more than a change of pace, especially after his five rushing touchdowns against Texas Tech.

Johnson slowly but surely became the starter, and now he's the guy for the Wildcats next season and beyond.

Since coming to Oklahoma State, Flores has gone from 6-2, 190 pounds up to 6-3, 200 pounds.

If a change were to happen, it should be something that is natural and not forced. It seems that would be the case but only time will tell. It could be a full season of Bowman behind the wheel with the heir waiting for the keys at the end of the road, or said heir could start test-driving the car early before it's fully his.

Ryan Breeden is a sports reporter for The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at rbreeden@stwnewspress.com.