Spring Preview: Cowboys Top-Heavy in QB Experience Heading into 2022

Spring is the time when college football coaches start to learn what they actually have on their roster. How they fill the holes left by outgoing playmakers and which former fringe contributors might turn into key cogs or even stars.

Possibly the biggest question facing Oklahoma State’s staff is who should back up No. 3.

But before we get into the QB2 conversation, one Oklahoma State quarterback heads into 2022 with unfinished business.

In his first appearance in the Big 12 Championship, Spencer Sanders made history. Just not the kind he planned on. Demons of his past came calling, and Sanders threw a career-high four interceptions in a losing effort — the most ever thrown in a Big 12 title game.

With some help from his defense, Sanders almost made amends for his foibles. He led the Cowboys on a late-game, 89-yard drive to earn a chance at the walk-off win. But in four tries, the Cowboys could not gain the two yards needed. If he wouldn’t have been otherwise adequately motivated for 2022, Sanders has now stood on the precipice of Big 12 glory (and more). He just needs to take the next step.

Who is returning: The Cowboys are top-heavy when it comes to QB experience this spring. Last year’s All-Big 12 First-Team passer is back for his third year at the helm. Thanks to COVID eligibility, Sanders still has two years left to play if he so chooses. So QB1 is set.

But more significant than who is returning is who is not. Former four-star prospect— and Sanders’ promising backup — Shane Illingworth transferred to Nevada this offseason. The Shane Train headed west leaving the Cowboys without any real experience behind Sanders.

Gunnar Gundy saw garbage time against TCU, but didn’t throw a pass. The only other returning quarterback on the roster is fellow walk-on Peyton Thompson who has yet to make an appearance. I can already imagine a meeting between dual-threat quarterback and head coach in Mike Gundy’s office. The latter points to a whiteboard and a step-by-step illustration on the proper procedures and merits of the QB slide.

Who is entering the mix: Mike Gundy, offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn and quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay will keep a constant, watchful eye on Garret Rangel. The four-star prospect — and No. 22 passer in the 2022 class according to 247 Composite ranking — enrolled early, giving himself the best chance to work his way into the conversation for clipboard duty.

Illingworth worked his way into the No. 2 spot early as a rookie so — as much sleep as it steals from Mike Gundy — a true freshman being one play away from shouldering a season’s stakes is not unheard of nor out of the question. This will be a huge a spring for each of the four below.

Pre-spring depth chart prediction

QB1: Spencer Sanders
QB2: Gunnar Gundy
QB3: Garret Rangel
QB4: Peyton Thompson

If you haven’t already, be sure you check out our spring running back preview.

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