Analyzing Oregon St.'s Signing Day

Rather than recap the specifics of the players who filed their National Letter of Intent today with Oregon St., I thought I'd link to a lengthy rundown the Gazette-Times' Cliff Kirkpatrick compiled, and move on to some analysis of what happened, and what didn't.

The offensive line was a problem the last couple of years for the Beavers, and consequently a primary area of emphasis this season for coach Mike Riley and company, and they brought in 7 recruits, several of whom could push to play right away.

One thing that jumps off the screen is the absence of any defensive linemen, but after bringing in some in 2010, and several more in 2011, Riley felt the number of returning players has them in good shape there. It will need to become a priority next year, given that some of the depth brought in in 2011 were JCs, especially after DT Calvin Tonga was lost late in the process to Colorado St., in what was probably a move for more immediate playing time. Though at 6'4", and 340 lbs., it seems likely he would have come in handy as a run stopper right away for Oregon St.

Generally, Oregon St. got who they were targeting except in one major area, the defensive backfield. The Beavers lost 5 verbal recruits, and 4 were defensive backs. All the defections came after DB coach Keith Heyward headed up I5 to Seattle, taking the same job with the Huskies, as well as a pay raise Oregon St. didn't match. Heyward also took 3 star prospect Cleveland Wallace with him to Washington.

Wallace was the only defensive back whose' defection can be clearly tied to Heyward's departure, as the other 3 all had other factors in their decisions, though Heyward leaving certainly did nothing to not make it easy to head elsewhere. Especially since Riley has not named a replacement, probably because one or more preferred target did not want to leave his current position, and impact his current recruiting group.

The big loss was 4 star Safety Devian Shelton, whom USC swooped in and snagged this week. When USC comes calling, most places are going to lost that recruit, but with multiple current DBs entering their final year, getting an impact player in the secondary, one which was routinely torched last year, needed to be one of Riley's priorities.

The Beavers also lost CB Kentrel Bryce, who decided late in the process he wanted to stay home in Rushton, LA, and Louisiana Tech benefited. The other disappearing DB was Chris Young, a Washington kid who decided he liked the warm, sunny weather he experienced as a JC, and went to Arizona St. instead of settling for rainy days at either of the northwest schools he had interest from.

A late in the day mild disappointment was the decision by 4 star WR prospect Kenny Lawler to go to California. Oregon St. held out some hope for the home run receiver recruit, but its only a mild disappointment because there wasn't that much chance.

Despite the notoriety of the likes of James Rodgers and Marcus Wheaton, Oregon St. lacks in both the star power and the offensive schemes to land the top level talent at WR in many cases.

The surprises included one of the offensive linemen, Stan Hasiak, a JC whom Oregon St. originally went after when he came out of college in Hawaii. Riley said in his press conference that he was comfortable with the progress Hasiak has made on the academic side, and never did lose interest in him, as far as the football side of things went.

Garrett Owens, the nation's third best kicker, was another surprise, especially with a freshman scholarship kicker and another young kicker already on the roster. Riley saw Owens while recruiting 2 other signees from the same Arroyo Grande High, QB Brent VanderVeen and offensive lineman Garrett Weinreich, and decided Owens was too good to pass up.

Riley said in his press conference that he anticipates Owens grey-shirting and then red-shirting, and only going head to head with Trevor Romaine and Max Johnson for one season.

Riley will announce some of the signees, and talk about all of them tonight at the signing day dinner in Portland, which will have former players Joe Newton and Matt Moore, and Fox Sports radio show host and Pac-12 football specialist Petros Papadakius as the hosts.

Despite the misses, the class is still one of the best in Oregon St. history, and was initially rated 8th in the Pac-12 and 37th in the nation by Rivals, though that #8 turned into a #10 after some late landings elsewhere. Which is at least a step up in the right direction, though there's a lot of work to do starting with spring practice, and lasting for several years before the final grade on the day or the program can be assigned.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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