STILLWATER — The story of Gunnar Gundy sounds like the American dream.
Having the opportunity to play Power Five football in his hometown, for his dad, for a team he has spent his whole life cheering for — what’s not to love? But the reality of being a coach’s kid is more complicated than it seems, especially when gaining the trust of teammates.
“It’s just the awkward phase of like, ‘How can I speak around him? Is he gonna go home and tell his dad?’” Gunnar said. “I don’t like that. I just want to be the best football player I can be and a good teammate to my teammates.
“The transition from last year to this year has been huge with my relationships with my teammates and stuff. Me being normal, not acting like I’m someone different than I’m not. That’s been my thing. Just being normal, hanging out with them, going to eat, having meetings. Me being around them for a long period of time now has really helped, I think, that transition from that awkward phase of being the coach’s kid and stuff like that to now just being a teammate and a friend.”
Gunnar, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt freshman quarterback at Oklahoma State, could just be a play away in 2022 from taking over the same team his dad led in the late 80s, and the same team his dad coaches now.
Gunnar’s only college stat to this point is the 1-yard rush he had against TCU last season, his only in-game action. But with Shane Illingworth having transferred to Nevada, Gunnar is in an ongoing position battle with highly touted freshman Garret Rangel to back up Spencer Sanders in 2022. The role behind Sanders is particularly important because Sanders has missed at least one start in each of his past three seasons as OSU’s quarterback.
Mike Gundy has mentioned the difficulties of Gunnar’s situation. Mike said how he handles it is by being hands off, letting quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay do the coaching. The situation is new to both Gundys.
That’s on the field. Off it, Gunnar said not much has changed from when he was Stillwater High’s quarterback to being on his father’s team — except the living arrangements anyway.
“He doesn’t live at home,” Mike said. “He comes there and gets food and leaves.
“…Gunnar doesn’t talk much. Gunnar is very quiet and to himself. He doesn’t really talk much about anything. He studies football, goes to school. He’s got his friends that he hangs out with, and that’s it. He’s an easy one to raise. I’ve got three sons and each one of them is completely different. He doesn’t really talk much. He lives in his own world. If he needs something, wants to talk about football, he finds me and talks about it, but it’s pretty rare.”
Gunnar threw for 4,208 yards and 43 touchdowns in high school. That earned him the opportunity to play Division-I football at a few schools. Had he gone to Tulane or Eastern Michigan, he wouldn’t have had to go through the “awkward phase” of proving himself as a teammate instead of the coach’s kid. But had he taken that path, he wouldn’t be living his dream.
“Being here in Stillwater for such a long period of time and being around Oklahoma State and the Cowboys for my entire life basically, I’ve always wanted to come here,” Gunnar said. “I had two or three offers to go somewhere else and I took my visits and went there, but OSU has always been home to me, in my opinion. I enjoy it too much. The people here on campus and the town and everything, it’s just where I wanted to be.”