Today is the beginning of the early signing window for recruits for fall sports, and the Oregon State football program has signed 6 today who will be on campus for spring practice.
The early signing window was traditionally and historically for JC/CC transfers, and that's still true, and 3 of the newest Beavers are such players, recruited as Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen said to meet immediate needs. But increasingly, high school recruits are finishing school early, and arriving on campus in time for spring practice, in order to get a jump on football (and campus life) at the next level. Oregon State has 3 of those coming already as well.
Andersen also indicated there could be a couple more still to come, DT Handsome Tanielu being the most notable, but this 6 is a good start.
The biggest arrival is Gus Lavaca, a 6'4", 350 lb. offensive lineman from Kearns, Utah. Lavaca is returning from his 2 year LDS Mission, and offensive line coach T.J. Woods said he would like to see Lavaca down around 320 lbs. (paging Strength & Conditioning coach Evan Simon).
The most anticipated arrival by Beaver Nation is 3 star QB/DB Mason Moran from Chandler, AZ, part of the highly anticipated "mother-lode" recruiting class from Chandler, Oregon State fans will remember Moran for having to miss his planned visit to Corvallis for a game last fall after he was injured the night before in his game.
Moran is fully recovered, and the 6'3" QB that's listed at 195 lbs. (apply the inverted 9 to 6 we used for the similarly built Seth Collins), already has his Oregon State helmet (see above). He'll be enrolling early after the holidays.
Immediate help at linebacker, a position that started fairly solid, but got dangerously thin by the end of the season, is expected from Shemar Smith, a 6'2", 200 lb. 2 star linebacker from Miami, FL. Andersen said Smith will graduate in January, and be at Oregon State in March.
The JC contingent is led by 6'5", 280 lb. 3-star DE Phillip Napoleon, from Mt. San Jacinto Community College. Pass rush was a huge problem for Oregon State last season, and the lack thereof could arguably have been the single biggest issue for the Beavers. Defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a termed Napoleon as a "game changer".
Another problem area was running back, at least once injuries began to mount, and Andersen, who said he wants to have at least 3 quality RBs ready to go at any time, has bolstered the stable with 6', 200 lb. Kyle White. White, originally from Montgomery, AL, comes to OSU via Orange coast Community College, and is the considered the #4 JC running back in the country by the ratings services.
Rounding out the group is a face familiar to Andersen, Timmy Hernandez, as WR & 2 star DB from Pima CC. Hernandez is from the same Mt. Point High School that current Oregon State WR Paul Lucas is from. Additionally, Andersen recruited T. Hernandez's brother Brian, who is at Pima as the Offensive Coordinator.
Andersen mentioned some disagreement with how the elder Hernandez used his younger brother (GA thought he should be running the ball more, and leading the sweep less), but did say it tells everyone all we need to know about his willingness to do whatever it takes.
Andersen said he may push spring football back a week in order to get all the early enrollees in place, but noted that Oregon State being on the quarter system, vs. 2 semesters, does help with transition schedules for both transfers needing winter quarter to finish some courses, and to provide multiple entry points (winter and spring quarters).
Andersen addressed taking transfers, stating he would always recruit some to meet immediate needs, and is generally comfortable with 2 to 5, noting the need for more indicates possible problems with recruiting, but also recognizes that any number of circumstances can arise with a given player.
He said his target numbers are to have 40 defensive players, 42 offensive, and 3 specialists on scholarship, and with good class to class balance. He also noted that Oregon State is still 1 quarterback down, with Collins move to whatever position they intend to use their Swiss Army Knife (is "SAK" now an official position abbreviation?) at, and that that isn't likely to change this season.
Andersen said the staff's priorities after the current holiday recruiting dead period ends is 1, difference makers (noting he will always take a difference maker), and 2, additional help on the defensive line.
Tanielu, a 6'2", 305 DT, is currently a Utah commit, but listed BYU first in a tweet last night that also listed Oregon State, Utah, and Boise State as the possibilities he's considering. The BYU coaching hire decision could be a lynch-pin in his decision, one way or another.
Finally, Andersen spoke to the Kalani Sitake situation, noting that his Defensive Coordinator was at the Christmas Party last night.
With BYU still waiting for a decision on their offer to Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo to become the Cougars next head coach, Sitake interviewed yesterday, and is "prepared and expected to become the next head coach at BYU in the event that (Ken) Niumatalolo turns the job down".
Andersen said that as the team & staff breaks for Christmas, his staff is still intact (at this moment), but also said in his opinion "BYU should be considering him", and that he supports Sitake in the event he does take the job. Andersen recognizes that Sitake is in line for this, and other, such jobs.
We'll continue to monitor both the player recruiting and coach recruiting story lines as they evolve.
5:15 PM UPDATE:
Niumatalolo has decided to turn down the offer from BYU, and stay at Navy. No word yet on whether they Cougars will in fact go with Sitake.