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OSU Season Preview - Part 7 - Defensive Backfield

For sake of time, the seventh installment of Oregon State season previews will include linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. Linebackers- Oregon State returns Derrick Doggett, who started the first five games of the season at weak side linebacker, but played in every game. This year, he will most likely replace two year starter Keith Ellison at strong side linebacker. Alongside him will Andy Darlin and Joey LaRocque. Andy has been waiting his turn behind Trent Bray to be in the spotlight, and he will get his chance to start this year. He has primarily played on special teams in the past. LaRocque is a 6-5, 230 pound linebacker out of the College of the Canyons, who transferred to OSU during the December Junior College signing period. We will see how well these three play as a unit, and if Linebacker U. will produce any more NFL prospects out of this group

Safties- These two guys, quite frankly, could be the best and most exciting group to watch on the field. Oregon State returns both Al Afalava and Sabby Piscitelli. Al first came to fame in the Washington State game on the infamous play you see to your right, and if you're like me, you still remember it completely. Washington State speedster Michael Bumpus takes off down the right sideline, as Reser Stadium sighed and sunk down into their seats. From nowhere, Al Afalava (then a true freshman) caught Bumpus by the shoulder, and punched the ball out onto the turf. Sabby (also pictured) recovered the ball for the fumble recovery, starting a drive that would be capped off by a 63 yard touchdown catch by Mike Hass off a improvisational Hail Mary route that was drawn up as a 12 yard curl.  From that play on, Al Afalava was the starter at Free Safety. Sabby returns for his senior year, and Al returns as a Sophomore. We're looking forward to a very exciting year at Safety.

Cornerbacks- Lets hope last year's cornerback woes were part of a "rebuilding" year, and that we can bounce back heading into this season. Our guys were young, and had no experience at the college level. We'll see if the year of experience made them better, of if they will still be in the developing stage. The Beavers did add Coye Francies to their roster, and he will see valuable time at cornerback this year also. Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis should be the other two players who get the majority of reps this year.Go Beavers!

--JB--