Was it Mike Gundy's efforts to block Wes Lunt from going to a SEC school that kept the talented passer from picking Vanderbilt? Or was it the Commodores' depth at quarterback that ultimately led him to Illinois? It's probably the former, but Vandy fans may never know for sure.
Lunt, who played in six games behind center for Oklahoma State as a true freshman in 2012, announced on Monday that he would transfer to the University of Illinois to continue his football career. The strong-armed QB had narrowed his list of potential school choices down to Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Louisville, Southern Mississippi, and Illinois before Cowboy head coach Gundy laid transfer restrictions on his former signal caller. Gundy refused to allow Lunt to transfer to any program in the SEC, Big 12, or Pac-12. This list of prohibited schools also included Southern Miss and Central Michigan.
Lunt still could have played for the Commodores, but he would have had to pay his own way in 2013-2014 thanks to Oklahoma State's scholarship restrictions. His situation was similar to the one facing Vandy basketball transfer Sheldon Jeter in his quest to transfer to Pittsburgh, though Lunt's limitations were much larger in scope.
The talented quarterback would have added depth for the 'Dores, but he would have faced some strong competition for the starting job in 2014. Patton Robinette, who will have a shot at earning the starting job this summer, will have two years of experience under his belt and is an early frontrunner for next year's top billing. Four-star recruit Johnny McCrary and quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-athlete-turned-quarterback Josh Grady will also be competing for the job. K.J. Carta-Samuels, who has verbally committed to Vanderbilt for the 2014 season, will also be in the mix.
Still, there would have been room for a passer that gouged Arizona for more than 400 yards in just his second game in the NCAA. Chad Kanoff, a three-star recruit in the class of 2013, spurned Vanderbilt to attend Princeton late in the spring, and his spot would have been available for Lunt had the young QB been willing to deal with OK State's provisions. There's no doubt that the Illinois native, who would have been relatively close to his hometown by playing in Nashville, would have brought value to James Franklin's team.
Lunt's choice to play in Illinois isn't surprising. It's a rational decision for a player who wanted to play close to home and didn't want to deal with transfer restrictions. Very few Commodore fans were holding out hope of landing the big-armed passer. Still, this official announcement will put some more impetus on Franklin's work on the recruiting trail and making sure that the QB position is well stocked for the future. Landing Lunt was a long shot, but it was worth taking. Now, the Commodore staff will have to work on finding an even better prospect to fill out their roster.