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Guerin Emig: Cowboys accept Gunnar Gundy for who he is, not who dad is, allowing backup quarterback critical peace of mind – Tulsa World





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Oklahoma State quarterback Gunnar Gundy, the head coach’s son, is working to become the back-up to starter Spencer Sanders.
Gunnar Gundy runs drills at an Oklahoma State practice at Aug. 3 at the Sherman Smith Center in Stillwater.
STILLWATER — It’s time we learn some things about Gunnar Gundy, now that the head coach’s son is vying to back up quarterback Spencer Sanders over a 2022 Oklahoma State season brimming with potential.
“He doesn’t live at home. He comes there and gets food and leaves,” Mike Gundy revealed at the Cowboys’ recent Media Day. “We don’t talk much football at home.”
“My parents always watch ‘Dateline’ shows with murder conspiracy theories. We usually talk about that,” confirmed Gunnar, the second-year walk-on from Stillwater High who is battling true freshman Garret Rangel behind Sanders. “Usually when I’m home it’s just normal parents talk about what we’re having for dinner and how the dogs are and when we’re getting in the hot tub later and how my brothers are doing. He’s really cool about leaving work at work. He comes home and treats us like his kids.”
This is reassuring.
It will be more reassuring for OSU fans when they see Gunnar deliver a 15-yard strike on third-and-10 at Boone Pickens Stadium, but since nobody has seen him throw a college game-day pass, it’s as worth digging into the 20-year-old’s head as his arm right now.
“It’s been a long journey for a year. There’s been a whole bunch of mixed emotions and mixed feelings around me,” Gunnar admitted. “But I’ve gotten real comfortable.”
The mixed emotions and feelings haven’t so much been about Gunnar’s choice of his father’s school, position and uniform number. Mike has tried to ease that burden. He’s still trying.
“I just stay away. I’m not down there. I’m not around the quarterbacks,” Mike said of OSU practice sessions. “Tim (Rattay, the Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach) does a great job. It’s best for me to let him coach them and let them function throughout the day. Let (Gunnar) make freshman quarterback mistakes and then let him grow and develop without me down there being involved in it.”
As far as pressure from the family business?
“Having that last name, obviously people treat you a little differently. There’s a different way people kind of look at you, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Gunnar said. “But I’ve grown up through it my entire life.”
The difficulty at OSU for Gunnar has been more nuanced than “following Dad’s footsteps.”
“When I first came in, there was that little awkward phase where I was like, ‘Am I supposed to talk to them? What can I tell them? What can I say around them?’” Gunnar said.
It was more his teammates than his head coach.
“It was weird for a while. I’d be weirded out, too, because you don’t know how the kid is,” Gunnar figured. “What if he goes home and tells his dad, ‘Hey, I saw so-and-so do this or so-and-so do that?’
“That’s just not my personality. It’s not my responsibility to go home and give my opinions on my teammates. That’s the last thing I would do. That’s not who I am. I just want to be a teammate and a friend.
“And over the past three or four months they have really taken me in and said, ‘Hey, he’s just a kid. He’s here to play football like the rest of us. He works hard. He’s in the workouts. He’s not just Mike’s kid anymore. He’s a teammate.’”
The coach’s son playing ping-pong or shooting pool with the rest of the squad, without worrying about what anyone is thinking, is a big deal if all the kid does is cover punts.
For him to be a quarterback and gain both the trust and respect of his mates? It’s everything.
It makes it so much easier for the coach’s son to reflect positively on his bumpier-than-we-imagine road taken.
It makes it easier for him to savor that he’s doing what idols Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph once did, not be overwhelmed by it.
“There are some stresses sometimes like, ‘Am I supposed to do this? Am I supposed to be here by now? Am I falling behind?’” Gunnar recognized. “But you just have to step back and admire where you are and have the perspective that most kids don’t get this chance, especially with their dad.”
Mike Gundy quarterbacked the Cowboys, too. Now that Gunnar takes his shot, it’s comforting to realize that the efforts of both his dad and his teammates enable him to swing freer.
Oklahoma State’s Peyton Kramer during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Stephon Johnson Jr. during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s participates in a drill during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Langston Anderson during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Jaden Bray during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s CJ Tate during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Jaden Bray during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Langston Anderson during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Langston Anderson during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s John Paul Richardson during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Brock Martin during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Brock Martin during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Brennan Presley during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Braylin Presley during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Mason Gilkey during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Gunner Gundy during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver, left, participates in a drill during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State’s Collin Oliver during an NCAA college football practice, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
guerin.emig@tulsaworld.com
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Sports Columnist
I’m the proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the OU Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.
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Oklahoma State quarterback Gunnar Gundy, the head coach’s son, is working to become the back-up to starter Spencer Sanders.
Gunnar Gundy runs drills at an Oklahoma State practice at Aug. 3 at the Sherman Smith Center in Stillwater.
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