'It was a no-brainer': Why Oklahoma State football alum J.W. Walsh was happy to return to Stillwater
STILLWATER — J.W. Walsh packed some personal items in his pickup truck and headed home.
His old home. Which is his new home.
Walsh had been gone from Oklahoma State for about five years after a playing career as a part-time starting quarterback and fan favorite. Since graduating in 2015, he had been bouncing around Texas, coaching at various locations, until the opportunity came for him to return to Stillwater in January.
“It’s really exciting. I’m happy to be back,” said Walsh, who was hired as an offensive quality control coach for the Cowboys.
After his playing days, Walsh was a graduate assistant at TCU, then a running backs coach at Abilene Christian before taking an analyst position at the University of Texas when Mike Yurcich — Walsh’s former offensive coordinator at OSU — was hired to run the Longhorn offense in 2020.
Following the season, Texas went through a coaching staff overhaul with the firing of head coach Tom Herman, and Walsh’s future was up in the air. That’s when OSU offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn reached out to see what Walsh’s plans were.
“I was still trying to figure out everything on the Texas end,” said Walsh, who is now 28. “It was pretty stressful, because it was the first time I had ever experienced that, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the new staff. We didn’t know who was gonna get retained and who wasn’t.”
The next day, Walsh and Dunn spoke, but OSU didn’t have a spot for Walsh at that time.
“About a week later, Coach Dunn called and offered me a job,” Walsh said. “At that point, it was a no-brainer. I’ve always wanted to come back here.”
As a quality control coach, Walsh still has limitations in terms of his interactions with players. But he will be working closely with quarterback coach Tim Rattay, and sitting in on meetings with the quarterbacks.
“I can be in meeting rooms, I just can’t run the meeting,” Walsh said. “I can be in staff meetings, I can be out at practice, I can be part of all of that. I just can’t coach on the field and can’t run a meeting.
“There’s still a lot I can do. I’m really excited to be in this role, because there’s a lot I can do to help. To be back here and be a part of it is what I’m looking forward to most.”
And for the most part, Stillwater and OSU haven’t changed much since he left.
“It’s changed a little,” he said. “There’s a few new buildings on campus and the town’s grown a little bit, but it’s still the same old Stillwater I fell in love with. The people are what makes this place special.
“It’s good to be around all these familiar faces and around people that love OSU as much as I do.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.