What are Wes’s strengths as a football player?
Derek Leonard: Just his natural throwing ability. I’ve never seen it as easy for somebody as it is for him. He has the most natural throwing motion, (and) it just comes out of his hand so nice. It’s something you can’t teach; it’s God given. He’s just such a natural. He’s so accurate. He’s tall and has a strong arm. He has everything you want in a thrower. I was just blessed to be able to coach him.
What do you think will be the biggest transition for him moving from the high school game to the Big 12 Conference?
Derek Leonard: I think quarterback is the toughest position because it is so mental. It’s just so much different (than any other position). I would say this for any quarterback ... I think the physical part will be the easiest part and I think the mental part will be the biggest adjustment, and just getting used to college. He’s supposed to be a senior in high school (this spring), so he’s got to adapt to that. The good thing is we were a no-huddle, spread, throw-it-around (offense), so from that standpoint it’s going to help him because he understands what they’re trying to do. I think the biggest transition will be working with Coach (Todd) Monken and learning the offense. But I would give that answer for any quarterback because I think the transition is tougher for any college quarterback. It’s had to adapt but if anyone can do it, it’s him. He has all the natural tools to make that transition easier.
Do you think he has a chance to make an instant impact or will there be an adjustment period for him?
Derek Leonard: If there’s one person who I know that has the ability to do (play as a freshman), it’s him because he throws the ball so well. Their offense fits him extremely well. It really fits his strengths, (and) they don’t have to change anything, they don’t have to do anything different. He’s not (Brandon) Weeden yet, but he’s got that God-given potential where he fits in already. He definitely could play as a freshman. I’ve had a few quarterbacks (go on to play in college), and I couldn’t say that about many of them. I wouldn’t mind if they gave him a year and I wouldn’t mind if he played as a freshman. I know they’ve got some good quarterbacks (on campus). We’ll have to wait to see.
Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Derek Leonard: He really likes Coach Monken. Just how everything worked out. The similarities of the offenses, the stability of the program, the greatness of the program ... you look at all the factors. They really wanted him; he was their No. 1 guy (at quarterback). When you take all of those things into the equation it was the perfect fit. Just look at the other places that were recruiting him in Illinois and Boston College, places where it wasn’t as stable. So it just worked out perfect. It truly is the perfect offense (for Wes), and I think Coach Monken does a great job, and they really clicked personality-wise. I don’t think there’s another offense in the country which would fit him as good as what they do there. I just think it was the perfect fit all around.
What do you think he is capable of accomplishing over the course of his college career at OSU?
Derek Leonard: Like I said, I’ve never had a kid like this. I think he could play on Sundays. He has that capability because he has the God-given gift to throw it around and be that NFL-style quarterback. What they’re doing there now and what they’ve started and the success they’re having I see him having success.
What will you remember the most about coaching Wes?
Derek Leonard: The two state championships were nice, but I don’t think I’ll ever see anyone throw the ball the rest of my life the way he throws the ball. I was supposed to be over there (on the sideline) calling plays but at times you turn into a spectator and you’re just stunned by what he can do and how he handles himself. I really believe I’ll never see anybody on the high-school level throw it the way he could. There were some games where you could call almost anything and it didn’t matter because he was just so accurate and so good (that night). I don’t think I’ll ever have that again. That’s nothing against anyone I’ve had or will have but he’s the first one that I’ve said I thought he’d really play on Sunday. The thing I’ll remember the most is just his greatness.