Pair of Cowboys battling for backup QB spot

Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics Oklahoma State freshman Shane Illingworth is in the running to be named the backup quarterback to redshirt sophomore starter Spencer Sanders. 

In the past 10 years, Oklahoma State football has maneuvered through half of those seasons in which only one quarterback started every game in a season.

Last year, due to a late-season hand injury to Spencer Sanders – who suffered two ACL tears during his high school career – the Cowboys had rely on backup Dru Brown.

But now that the former Hawaii transfer has graduated, Oklahoma State has another quarterback battle heating up this fall – to serve as Sanders’ backup if he were to go down again this season.

“Both guys are doing really well. We've split reps with them,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “We're gonna make a decision at this time next week on who that quarterback will be. But I've been pleased with really all three quarterbacks and their development under (OSU quarterback) Coach (Tim) Ratay.”

While Gundy did not specifically divulge which two quarterbacks were vying for the spot behind Sanders, it is believed to be the junior college transfer Ethan Bullock and true freshman Shane Illingworth.

Bullock, a redshirt junior originally from Orlando, Florida, previously play at City College of San Francisco, completing 113 of 192 pass attempts in nine games, with 1,468 yards passing and 15 touchdowns to seven interceptions last year. He originally redshirted at South Dakota State in the FCS and got to play in four games at CCSF in 2018 after transferring from SDSU – completing 10 of 15 attempts for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Illingworth is a four-star recruit – per 247Sports Composite – from Norco, California, who received offers from a litany of Power 5 Conference programs. In his senior season of high school, he completed 65 percent of his passes (150 of 230) for 3,081 yards with 40 touchdowns to just two interceptions – an improvement from his junior campaign when he had 2,739 yards with 29 touchdowns to seven interceptions in playing one more game.

Though it’s known Sanders will be the starter, because of past history at the position, Gundy did say the QBs battling to be the backup have had some opportunities to get work in with the projected starting offense.

“They get a little work with the ones. We always let those guys get some work, but for the majority of it is Spencer,” Gundy said.

Traditionally, Oklahoma State releases a depth chart the Monday before a game that could provide the clarity of who is at QB2. However, it sometimes includes “or” when a final decision has yet to be made, so it’s possible that could also be included on the OSU depth chart for the quarterback position heading into the opener against Tulsa.

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