Kentucky QB brought in to push Orgeron for starter
From the first time that new McNeese State head football coach Frank Wilson spoke with the media, he made it clear that he wanted to upgrade depth at all positions, including quarterback.
But what did that mean?
Cody Orgeron started all 12 games behind center for the Cowboys in 2019, throwing for a career-high 2,628 yards and 24 touchdowns, numbers that rank sixth and fourth, respectively, in a McNeese single season.
In an effort to upgrade the quarterback depth, Wilson made clear that he was opening up the competition for the starting job. The addition of Walker Wood, a graduate transfer from Kentucky with two seasons of eligibility remaining, was one sign that a potential quarterback battle could be brewing.
“The quarterback position for us was one where we have quality,” Wilson said. “We have a guy (Orgeron) who is our returning starter that we think is very capable, and (are) excited about. But we don’t have much seasons played beyond him.
“And so we need to address putting us in position to get someone who’s capable to go in and play, a guy that has experience. So we went for a transfer in that situation.”
Wood saw limited playing time last season as a redshirt sophomore, taking snaps in games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee-Martin. He completed 2 of 3 attempts for 15 yards and ran for 22 yards on three carries.
Orgeron will likely have the edge because of his statistics as well as being the incumbent.
What Wood should bring is a level of practicing and playing college football at the Power Five school, as well as being a dynamic dual threat.
As a high school senior, Wood passed for 3,047 yards and 30 touchdowns and ran for 1,321 yards and 31 touchdowns to help his Lafayette (Ky.) High School team earn a berth in the Kentucky Class 6A state championship game.
The recruiting process made Wood a fortunate person as he was able to visit McNeese before the COVID-19 outbreak shut down sports and effectively stopped in-person recruiting from mid-March through at least the end of May. Wood said he came Lake Charles and loved the coaching staff as well as the camaraderie that the team showed.
In making the decision to play at McNeese, Wood will not only have to deal with competing against Orgeron, but also play for a team that is guaranteed to not to play in the postseason because of substandard NCAA Academic Progress Report scores. When it came down to it, Woods said he looked past that all and still wanted to be a Cowboy.
“That’s the thing about college football,” Wood said. ” Anywhere you go, there’s going to be competition. So that’s just what it is and I think competition is going to make me better, it’s going to make every other quarterback better. At the end of the day, it’s going to make our team better.”
McNeese has two other quarterbacks listed on its 2020 roster, redshirt freshman Cade Bartlett and Sulphur High graduate Morgan Clark. Bartlett could have the best chance at pushing Orgeron and Wood, and at the least he could set himself up to be a two-year starter if he sits behind the other two.
As for Wood, he said he’s prepared for the chance to earn the starting position, but realizes that he could be behind Orgeron for a year and then hopefully be the starter as a fifth-year senior.
No matter what, the Lexington, Kentucky, native, who has lived in the city his life, will prepare to move out of town and out of state for the first time. It’s an opportunity he’s excited about.
“I’ve been here my whole life,” Wood said of Lexington, a city of 300,000-plus people. “Obviously I’ve traveled and seen other states and places, but I’ve never actually been a resident of another town or city. So I’m really excited for something new, to get out of Lexington, and kind of branch out.”