Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Light Rain

55°F

Portland

Light Rain

Humidity: 93%

Wind: 16 mph

  • 20 Dec 2014

    Rain 55°F 53°F

  • 21 Dec 2014

    Showers 54°F 47°F


Beavers go national, go for linemen and get intriguing QBs

CORVALLIS — With Oregon State, recruiting is mostly about potential and development.

So as always, OSU's coaches aren't paying attention to the number of stars scouting services are placing alongside their 2014 25-player class.

There was an optimistic buzz in the Beavers' coaching offices Wednesday that the players they reaped in their current crop will pay off -- some soon, some in the long run.

  • Augmenting the 25 players in this year's group are four transfers who will count back toward the 2013 class -- quarterback Luke Del Rio, defensive tackles Kyle Peko and Baker Pritchard and offensive tackle Bobby Keenan. Two other transfers -- defensive tackle Luke Hollingsworth and cornerback Demarlon Morris -- are members of the '14 contingent.

    Coach Mike Riley and his staff focused more than usual on filling needs and achieving balance.

    "We hit the spots we wanted by position," Riley says. "It's a pretty diverse group. We feel good about who they are and the ability they have. It was all pretty clean that way."

    Including Keenan, Oregon State signed five offensive linemen. The others are prep seniors Drew Clarkson, Yanni Demogerontas, Trent Moore and Robert Olson. The Beavers lost out on a couple of four-stars, Kaleb McGary (Washington) and Kolton Miller (UCLA).

    "I'd love to have had six offensive linemen in this group," Riley says. "We'll still be a little short in scholarship O-linemen. We have 12; we'd like to have 14. We'll continue to work on that."

    Oregon State also loaded up on defensive linemen with nine prospects, including transfers Hollingsworth, Peko and Pritchard. Six of them project as tackles, the Beavers' thinnest position.

    "We really bulked up at the D-line," Riley says. "That's exciting."

    There are three quarterbacks, including Del Rio; three receivers, including Tanner Sanders of Crescent Valley High; three linebackers, four defensive backs and two tight ends.

    The Beavers re-established themselves in Hawaii with what some believe are the top three prospects on the islands, all on the D-line -- ends Lamone Williams of Kahuku and Fitou Fisiiahi of Honolulu and tackle Kalani Vakameilalo of Kapolei.

    "I love the guys we got from Hawaii, and I'm glad to get a guy from Kahuku," Riley says. "It's been awhile. At one time, we had five guys from there on the same team."

  • Oregon State went national more than ever before, harvesting talent from Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah and Arizona as well as the Northwest and California.

    "It's especially true of the Midwest area," Riley says. "I don't ever remember having guys from Chicago, Iowa and Minneapolis in the same class.

    "It's a sign of the times with all of our technology available today. We get (video) links all the time from kids all over the country, and we try to keep up with it. Glyeb Ewing is from a small town in Iowa. How in the world does Oregon State find out about him? It's a product of the access we have to video and information on players in a lot of places. And it's a result of guys being more willing to explore, because the world is smaller to them."

    Only seven players signed from California, including Keenan.

    "Probably our smallest group ever" from California, Riley says, "but we really like the guys we got."

  • The quarterbacks all hold intrigue to Riley. Del Rio, who will be available for spring ball after a transfer from Alabama, will be in the mix to compete for the starting job in 2015 -- and could earn the backup job for next season if his family's appeal to the NCAA for an extra year is granted.

    Marcus McMaryion, a dual-threat QB out of Dinuba, Calif., "might be the best athlete movement-wise we've ever recruited, and he's a very accurate thrower," Riley says.

    "The No. 1 thing a guy has to do for us is throw accurately and be able to throw all the balls," the OSU coach says. "He has to have the arm. Then there's the bonus -- what else can he do? Our exploration with Marcus will come in time, but this is a terrifically athletic and intelligent young man. I'm excited to see what he can do that might be a hair different than what we've had in the past."

    Then there is Nick Mitchell, a 6-3, 190-pound pro-style QB out of North Bend, Wash.

    "Nick can really spin the ball," Riley says. "He throws a beautiful football, can make all the throws we need from a quarterback."

  • Riley is excited about the versatility of Central Catholic's Ryan Nall, a running back/outside linebacker on the Rams' Class 6A championship team.

    "He could be a linebacker, a fullback, a tight end," Riley says. "When I saw him at our half-day camp (the summer before his senior season), I thought, 'This guy is a no-brainer.' He has good feet, he can run, he has nice size already. He is like a perfect style H-back for us who might be more versatile than the H-backs we've had in the past."

  • With recruiting over, Riley now turns full attention to the hiring of an offensive coordinator to replace Danny Langsdorf, who has moved on to the NFL's New York Giants. Riley interviewed one outside candidate, who left Corvallis Wednesday.

    "I'll visit with at least two more (outside) guys," Riley says. "I hope to have (the hiring) done in the next 10 days."

    Riley remains undecided about whether to hire outside or make some internal moves -- involving receivers coach Brent Brennan, Ryan Gunderson and/or Jay Locey -- to fill out the coaching staff. Gunderson, a former OSU quarterback, is the program's assistant director of player personnel. Locey, the ex-associate head coach under Riley, is in his second year as the program's chief of staff.

  • NOTES

    • Oregon State's recruiting class is ranked 48th nationally by Scout.com, 49th by Rivals.com, and in both cases ninth in the Pac-12 ahead of Colorado, Utah and Washington State.

    • OSU is over the 85-player scholarship limit. "Through grades, gray-shirting and attrition, we'll get it to the right number," Riley says.

    • Receiver Xavier Hawkins from Fulton, Tenn., failed at his first try at the ACT but will take it again soon. He was close on his first attempt, and OSU coaches are optimistic he'll pass and gain his eligibility. Riley says OSU coaches ranked their top four candidates among recruits to run the fly sweep, and Hawkins was atop the list.

    • Peko, who signed a letter-of-intent last year but never qualified, signed a financial-aid agreement on Wednesday. He is taking the final class he needs to qualify this winter at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. "We anticipate him being here for spring ball and being right in the mix" for a spot in the D-line rotation, Riley says. "He's a good player. If indeed he makes it, that will be very good."

    ª Delp was OSU's most pleasant surprise in the final days of the recruiting period. The 6-3, 310-pound lineman out of Pomona, Calif., was thought headed for UCLA at one time. He gave a verbal agreement to Arizona State, but when the Sun Devils suggested he grayshirt, Delp de-committed. Though ASU changed course late and said it would give him a scholarship, he decided on the Beavers. "'Kammy' is a two-way player, but we'll probably start him on defense," Riley says. "He's a tough guy who reminds us of (former OSU guard) Jeremy Perry."

    • Pritchard, whom Oregon State recruited out of high school, attended Brigham Young as a freshman, then served a two-year mission. He was expected to compete for a spot in the BYU rotation for next season but decided to transfer, and coach Bronco Mendenhall agreed to let him go. He will have at least two seasons of eligibility and will appeal for a third.

    • Demogerontas missed much of his senior season at Sandburg High in Orland Park, Ill., with an ankle injury. "We saw him early and offered, and the family appreciated we stayed with him even after he got hurt," Riley says.

    • Riley says Vakameilalo, 6-4 and 300, "might be physically ready to play right now."

    • Ewing and his family moved to Waukon, Iowa, from Ukraine in 2008.

    • Morris, the cornerback out of Mesa (Ariz.) Community College, is expected to compete with junior Larry Scott for the spot vacated by the graduated Rashaad Reynolds.

    • Dwayne Williams, a prep cornerback from Killeen, Texas, "is the same kind of athlete as Rashaad," Riley says.

    • Receiver Datrin Guyton out of Manor, Texas, got a heavy recruiting push from Texas Christian, and Texas came in near the end.

    • Olson's high school coach was Mike Grant, son of coaching legend Bud Grant.

    • Riley was happy to get a pair of in-state recruits -- Nall and Sanders -- after getting blanked in Oregon the previous year. Sanders is son of ex-OSU linebacker Scott Sanders, the Crescent Valley coach. Tanner Sanders, a QB at CV who probably will start out at receiver, "is one of top athletes in state. He gives us versatility. Our job will be to help Tanner find the correct niche."

    • Defensive end Sumner Houston is out of Concord, Calif., powerhouse De La Salle High, the alma mater of Beavers Dylan Wynn, Tyler Anderson and Terron Ward.

    • Clarkson has dealt with a bout of testicular cancer. "At a very young age, Drew has learned what the words 'perspective' and 'opportunity' mean, and to not take anything for granted," Riley says. "That's an exact quote from him. We'll get a diligent, hard-working person who has already been through something that most people don't have to think about. Besides my admiration of him as a football player, he's a terrific young man."

    • Two recruits -- running back Harris Ross of Pittsburg, Calif., and safety Xavier Crawford from Concord, Calif. -- were not included among the class. They are expected to sign financial-aid agreements in June and begin school at OSU next January, though they remain "free agents" able to sign elsewhere until then.

    • Riley says Oregon State's appearance at the Hawaii Bowl "was big for us" on the recruiting front.

    • "I knew it would be," he says. "We had numerous high school coaches, and a couple of the guys we signed, at our practices. They came by and solidified what they were thinking. It's always good for a guy to watch your team practice. He can get a better vision of how he fits in and the style of how our coaches coach. It's part of the reason I like open access to let people watch us. There can be residuals of getting people into our program."

    • Junior linebacker Joel Skotte, who suffered a concussion last season, is going through some tests now. It remains unclear whether he'll be able to continue his playing career.

    • Fund-raising continues on a $42 million project to renovate the Valley Football Center. It will take about $30 million in commitments to get the renovation started. OSU coaches are pushing to at least to redo the locker room immediately after the 2014 season.

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Twitter: @kerryeggers