STILLWATER, Oklahoma - Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State football team took the field inside Boone Pickens Stadium Monday for the first spring practice of the year.

The warmer than normal temperatures with plenty of sunshine was a welcome start to the Cowboys spring workouts.

Head Coach Mike Gundy and a handful of Cowboys took time to talk to the media before practice for insight into the beginning of a new season.

"We had a great winter conditioning," said Gundy who added that he is looking forward to getting back out on the field and filling in some key positions on both sides of the ball. "The players have really responded. We've had some guys step up into a leadership role for us out here in the winter conditioning."

Leadership was a trend during Coach Gundy's post practice news conference, especially when it comes to what he is looking for in the player that will replace former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden-one of the biggest keys for the Cowboys entering the 2012 season.

Oklahoma State has a few underclassmen in the race for the QB role: Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and newcomer Wes Lunt.

"The most important thing is leadership, and none of the three have had any time on the field with the offense in a crucial time of the game," said Gundy. "We're looking for toughness and leadership and understanding the offense, and we'll try to put them in as many situations this spring that are game-like to see how they handle themselves. We'll split the reps equally and let them go play."

Chelf is the only Cowboy with game experience as he saw action in four games for OSU last season. He completed 34-of-49 career passes for 520 yards and five touchdowns.

Walsh on the other hand,  redshirted last season but the mobile quarterback spent the year learning the offense and studying Weeden closely.

Last, but not least, Lunt--a true freshman an early enrollee from Illinois, is also in the hunt to replace Weeden. Lunt was the best high school quarterback in the state of Illinois last fall playing in spread attack similar to OSU's. He graduated early in order to participate in spring drills with OSU for the opportunity at starting QB.

"I don't want to have two quarterbacks," said Gundy after practice. "It's better to have a starter at quarterback…I'm not really excited about the team not knowing who their quarterback is all summer."

"I'm not here to make predictions on what's going to happen at the quarterback spot. I know that we have players that will compete there, that will perform better this spring and early in camp - better than they would have last year because they knew that they weren't the guy," added Coach Gundy.

"It's the best group of linebackers we've had since I've been here, as a player or coach," said Gundy. "Blackmon is hard to replace....As a group, the receivers have to make plays."

"Our linebacker corps is like a family. We're really close, which makes it that much better in the meetings," said linebacker Caleb Lavey. "When we're playing together, I feel like we know each other on the field really well, which helps us. We're very excited about having everybody back."

OSU is looking to that strong linebacking corps of Lavey, Shaun Lewis, and Alex Elkins and the cornerback group of Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert to all step up and be playmakers form the Cowboys. In addition, the leading tackler from 2011 returns in safety Daytawion Lowe.

"It's about winning games and continuing what the previous groups started," said OSU running back Joseph Randle.

"We have a chip on our shoulder," said wide receiver Tracy Moore. "Last year, we had a lot of big-name players coming in to the season and everybody was depending on them. This year, we're trying to figure out who is going to step up."

Oklahoma State has 13 more practices scheduled before the annual Orange-White Spring Game on April 21.