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Oregon St. Roster Moves Nearly Done

Coach Mike Riley has almost whittled the roster down to what the Beavers will have this fall.
Coach Mike Riley has almost whittled the roster down to what the Beavers will have this fall.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

According to head coach Mike Riley, the uncertainty around the roster, and getting down to the 85 scholarship limit, is nearly done.

We previously reported about multiple injury retirements to TEs Tyler Perry and Hayden Craig, and the departure of 3 wide receivers this spring, and there was also the decision by Jake Knight to focus on track and field instead of football.

But that still left Oregon St. over the limit, even after linebacker Michael Greer opted to transfer in search of playing time.

However, one of the Polynesian defensive lineman recruits has also opted for another destination, one we knew was a possibility, but also one rarely encountered. Fitou Fisiiahi will instead play rugby at Division II Kutztown in Pennsylvania.

Fisiiahi may not have qualified academically at Oregon St. anyway, and this move won't hurt Fisiiahi's pro prospects as a rugby player either, so it may be best for all concerned, though losing depth on the line is always a cause for concern.

Riley also advised that linebacker Rickey Liuchan will probably have to grayshirt this fall for academic reasons. With the linebacking position being 2 deep across the board, and special teams looking good with the likelihood that both incoming freshman Ryan Nall and transfer TE Jacob Wark could contribute there if needed, that might not be a bad thing for Liuchan or Oregon St. either.

With the entire starting linebacking group of Michael Doctor, D. J, Alexander, and Jabral Johnson in their final year of eligibility, burning a year's eligibility or a redshirt on Liuchan, who looks like he could eventually be a major player, would be a major waste.

The downside of course would be if the position were to suffer a rash of injuries, as once grayshirted, there's no course change possible after the 3rd or 4th game.

With those departures, Riley's compliance staff (and compliance and academic progress isn't a cottage industry anymore; it's a major program on campus at every college in the country) has the Beavers now pegged exactly at their limit of 85, and that includes the saga of JC transfer DT Kyle Peko.

Everyone who covers the Beavers has written the name Peko more times than any other recruit in recent memory, but we get to again, with word from Coach Riley that the staff now does not anticipate Peko being on campus come next month when camp starts.

At some point, the saga has to end, and perhaps we are finally there.

Riley did say that if Peko doesn't materialize, in light of the possible depth issue with not having either Greer or Liuchan, he would bring in JC transfer Kyle Haney from Huntington Beach, CA. If Peko does get cleared academically, Haney will spend another year at Golden West CC, and join Oregon St. in another year.

Haney, at 6'1" & 205 lbs., is small for the job, but would 3 years to get in 3 years of eligibility, and perhaps put some muscle on between the training table and the weight room.

Whether that's the best move vs. extending a scholarship to one of the walk-ons already on the depth chart is a point of contention, but with major overhaul at the linebacker position on the horizon, one can see where Riley is looking with this decision.

Over-recruiting at some positions that has backed other position groups into a corner has been a challenge in recent years for Riley though, and its probably not going to change at this stage.

One month from today, camp starts, and probably in just as hot a conditions (the Prothro practice facility baked in temperatures beyond 90 degrees today) as summer has brought to the valley. Can slip-n-slide day be far behind?