Brandon Weeden is not your typical college quarterback.
The road to starting quarterback of the Oklahoma State Cowboys has been a bumpy one for the 27-year-old senior from Edmond, Okla.
After being selected as a pitcher in the second round of the 2002 MLB by the New York Yankees, Weeden bounced around minor league baseball for years — landing with three different teams but never making it up to the big leagues.
With a career mark of 19-26 and an ERA of 5.02, Weeden was released by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 and out of a job.
“I was upset,” he said. “I’d been playing baseball since I was 3 years old. It was tough. It was something I loved to do. It took me a few days. I went home, thought about it and just decided to give college football a try.”
Then stepped in Mike Gundy.
Now the head coach of the Cowboys, Gundy recruited Weeden out of high school when he was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. During a visit to Stillwater after being released by the Royals, Weeden met with Gundy, and after hitting it off with the coach, was offered a spot despite being much older than the other players on the
“I think there’s an advantage in being older,” Gundy said. “We all know that we’re different at 26 than we are at 18. And in order to handle the pressures of being a quarterback and playing at this level, maturity is an advantage.”
Weeden was redshirted for his first year at OSU and saw action in only one game during his freshman season. But it was a game in 2009 against 3-7 Colorado when the sophomore Weeden was finally able to make his mark with Cowboys fans.
Trailing the Buffaloes 14-10 at halftime in Stillwater and with star quarterback Zac Robinson out because of an injury, the third-string Weeden took over the reins of the Cowboys’ offense in the second half and took his first meaningful snaps since the Oklahoma high school semifinals in 2001.
Hitting 10-of-15 passes for 168 yards — including touchdown tosses of 28 and 47 yards — Weeden led the Cowboys back for a 31-28 victory over Colorado.
If the Colorado game was Weeden’s opening act, his junior season was the main event.
In his first year as a starting quarterback since 2001, Weeden had seven 300-yard passing games and three 400-yard games, earning First-Team all-Big 12 honors last year.
In addition to throwing at least one touchdown pass in every game — and at least two TD passes in 11 games — Weeden set single-season school records for passing yards (4,277), total offense (4,209), touchdown passes (34), completed passes (342), pass attempts (511) and completion percentage (66.9) and ended the season third nationally in passing yards.
With one of the most successful seasons for an OSU quarterback behind him, the six-foot-four, 218-pound former minor league pitcher of the Columbus Clippers and the High Desert Mavericks has led OSU to a number nine ranking in The Associated Press preseason poll and has one the best receivers in the nation to throw to in Justin Blackmon.
With targets like Blackmon, he is confident at the way this season will turn out, especially after a productive offseason.
“This preseason has been completely different. I know the offense, I’m not going into game one worried about what other guys are doing, I can just go out there and play and kind of react on the fly,” Weeden said. “I feel like I’m more of a leader. On the offensive side, I’m able to help see any mistakes by other guys, where as last year I was more worried about my job. I just feel that we’re all one year more experienced.”
The Cowboys are set to take on Louisiana-Lafayette, a team they drubbed 54-28 last year by way of Weeden’s five touchdown tosses.
Weeden has spent a great deal of time working with newly acquired offensive coach Todd Monken, who hasn’t tried to change Weeden’s style of play. But Weeden is grateful for the little tweaks he has made.
“We really haven’t tinkered with a ton of things, but the adjustments we have made have been sound,” Weeden said.
“They’ve been solid and for a good reason... Some of the stuff that [Monken] has done has been brilliant.”
He has a corp of strong receivers, coaches that respect his maturity and decision making, and a plethora of experience behind him.
The biggest question surrounding Weeden now: What will he do for his closing act?