Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley expanded the planned list of true freshmen who will play this season from the 3 defensive players he announced last Tuesday to add a pair on offense as well, making the announcement today after practice.
WR Victor Bolden has been one of the most impressive players in pre-season camp, but being behind WR Brandin Cooks at both the flanker (Z) position. and probably as the punt returner, at least initially, left Riley contemplating red-shirting him over concerns about the number of plays he might see.
But Bolden's blazing speed, route running, and willingness to work and learn made it clear he's one of the best players on the team, and has to play.
"Bolden has just made too many plays to be watching the games," Riley said. "I just think we've got to play him."
Riley also said Bolden will return kickoffs, which was an area in need of improvement over last season, when Oregon St. was the worst in the Pac-12 in kickoff return yards. Bolden can run the sweep and is developing as a blocker, as well as being a threat both deep and on short routes, and Cooks will need a few plays off.
Bolden didn't even know until after practice, as he explains here, via YouTube, and KEZI Channel 9's camera:
The list of players who didn't participate in practice today is a long one, and we'll get to that in a minute, but one of them is DT Gavin Andrews, whose' illness appears to be mononucleosis, something that's going to take a little time to shake off. (See Steven Christian's extended absence for reference.)
As a result, freshman Sean Harlow will also not red-shirt this season, and is even going to start next Saturday in the season opener against Eastern Washington, in place of Andrews.
Harlow is a sizable young man at about 6'5" and 285 lbs., and has practiced at both tackle spots and at guard as well with both the 1s and 2s these last 3 weeks, and done a solid enough job that offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh was already planning to keep Harlow at his side all season, and use him in the event of any kind of emergency.
Here's Harlow talking about his opportunity, via YouTube, and again, care of KEZI Channel 9's camera:
Bolden and Harlow join CB Dashon Hunt, S Brandon Arnold, and LB Darrel Songy in wearing black, orange, and white, but not red, jerseys this season.
Here's Riley after practice, also care of KEZI Channel 9's camera, and YouTube:
Riley also said he's planning to split time between Richard Mulaney and Obum Gwacham at split end (X) in the opener.
The Beavers will take tomorrow off before beginning game week preparations for the Eagles, but a number of key players were already in weekend mode today.
In addition to Cooks and Andrews, the entire regular RB corp of Storm Woods, Terron Ward, and Chris Brown took the day off, which let Jovan Stevenson, who moved back to offense this week, get a lot of reps. Brown had a boot on his left foot.
C Isaac Seumalo also missed another practice, still nursing a bruised left knee, and TE Tyler Perry also turned his left ankle, and spent the rest of the day with tape and ice applied.
On defense, in addition to D.J. Alexander, who has been walking without issue, but will still be out until probably the Utah game, Michael Doctor, the other OLB, also sat out today, and so did both starting corners, Sean Martin and Rashaad Reynolds.
Coming on the heels of having essentially skipped practice altogether yesterday, this many starters being out probably means the training staff won't be getting a day off!
DE/DT Dylan Wynn was fine though, and even took over as a camera man!