Joe Sheehan started it, Peter Bean carried it on, and now, here are "My Guys" for 2008. These are a small handful of players who I'd love to have great, high-impact seasons but aren't receiving sufficient hype.
Taylor Kavanaugh, WR/PR/H- The hometown walk-on from Portland's Lincoln High is hard to dislike-- after all, he's the two-time winner of the team's "Lunch Bucket Award" that is awarded for work ethic. Taylor is listed on the roster at Wide Receiver, but you're mostly going to see him on Special Teams. Kavanaugh returned punts last year in the absence of Sammie Stroughter, but with #19 back, Taylor could see less time there this season. He'll still serve as the holder on field goals and extra points. Last year as a punt returner, Taylor had 27 returns for an average of 6.9 yards ranking him eighth in the Pac-10, but he was very dependable. His longest return of the season came at just the right time, a 26-yarder in the third quarter of the Emerald Bowl that set the Beavers up inside the Marlyand 40. The Beavers would score the winning touchdown on that drive.
Greg Laybourn, S- I think it's fair to say that Greg is the most overlooked starter in the secondary. He was dubbed the starter at free safety coming out of spring, but most fans were more familiar with Brian Payton, until he got booted from the team. Greg is now "the guy" at free safety, and he's got experience, too. He played in every game last season, starting against UCLA and UA. He had 15 tackles versus UCLA and 10 against No. 2 California. He was a big part of the goal line stand in the third quarter versus Cal. He's also a standout on special teams, although it's unclear if he will continue to play there this season. He's one of those guys that fans watch sprint down the field on kickoffs because of his speed and big-hit ability. (Did you know? Greg Laybourn was on the 2006 OSU National Championship baseball team.)
Simi Kuli, DL- The 270 pound defensive linemen is definitely getting hype-- he was, after all, a Rivals.com and Scout.com 5 star recruit and regarded as the best junior college prospect in the country. He's one of "my guys" because, we'll, we're going to need him this year, and since he won't be at practice until after September 1, things could get a little dicey. He only has two years of eligibility left, so hopefully he can get to as many games as possible. Something tells me if he arrives on September 1 he won't be able to play against Penn State on September 6, even though the coaches are still saying he could play right away.
Isaiah Cook, LB- I first became interested in the linebacker at last year's Civil War game at Autzen Stadium. Sitting two rows off the Beaver bench in Section 9, I was in prime Beaver-hating country, but Isaiah gave it right back to the Duck fans, and you have to like that. He didn't play in the game much, but didn't take any crap from the crowd about that, either. Isiah probably wont see the field as much as he would like this year behind Kristick, Cornell, and Pankey, but he'll definitely be in the mix.
Who are your guys?