The key losses are starting to mount up for the Oregon St. football team this off-season, as today another starter has left the team. Defensive End Matt LaGrone is the latest player to leave school for personal reasons. LaGrone, after considering the matter over spring break, informed Oregon St. coach Mike Riley of his decision at noon today, the opening day of spring term, and 2 1/2 hours before the team's first spring practice.
LaGrone is married, but he and his wife were separated (most of the time), with the wife living in Reno.
From his viewpoint, it was a wise decision about what he needs to do with his family,'' Riley said. "I think he decided that (being separated) was not the best way to go. ... it came down to the fact he didn't think he could make this work again, living apart from his wife and attending and playing football at OSU. A decision which I admire.
LaGrone, who was a former Nevada basketball player, and used his 6'6" size and leaping ability to disrupt opposing offenses, had started four of OSU's last five games in 2009, and Riley felt he was primed to have a standout senior season.
It's a loss, for sure, but we'll work now to recover,'' said Riley, who noted he had been talking with LaGrone "over the last couple months'' about what he might do. I knew they had been struggling with what was the right decision. They didn't like it, the way it was going.
LaGrone was at the first position meeting for defensive ends Sunday night, and Riley thought, "we were over the hump."
This was a very hard personal struggle for him, something he has gone back and forth with from day to day for quite awhile.
It was the latest in a series of off-season blows for the OSU defense, which lost projected starting outside linebacker Keith Pankey (torn achilles) for spring ball, and possibly into the fall, and also starting middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi, who left the team to join the armed forces.
It does (hurt the team), because he had made a lot of progress and played a lot,'' Riley commented. "I think we've got good depth; we have got young guys coming up who I think will be good players, but it's a tough loss. ... it's just like Pa'aluhi. You've got a guy almost at the stage to get his best performance, and then he's gone. It's not a good thing at all,'' Riley added, (though they are leaving for good reasons). Our team will recover, and we'll have plenty of guys who will do a good job, but it will be something we will have to overcome.
LaGrone was in on 28 tackles, including four for a loss, last season, and added two fumble recoveries.
LaGrone was listed No. 1 on the depth chart at DE on the right side going into today's start of spring ball, with sophomore Taylor Henry (6'1", 240) listed at No. 2. Redshirt freshman John Braun (6'5", 256) was at No. 3, and the injured Mitchel Hunt (6'2", 287), a converted DT, at No. 4.
The depth chart at the left defensive end spot going into spring ball is shallow as well, with returning starter Gabe Miller No. 1, sophomore Andrew Seumalo No. 2, and redshirt freshman Devon Kell No. 3.Redshirt freshman Mana Rosa is listed fourth, but is also injured.