After working on it for over a year, DT Kyle Peko has finally attained eligible status at Oregon St., after completing a first session summer term course.
Peko is and has been a highly touted JC transfer, and a big one at 6'1" & 306 lbs. (give or take a couple), but the saga of gaining both OSU & NCAA eligibility has been as long as the time it has taken to obtain it, with disputes over accreditation of classes and after the fact changes in counting compounding the problems with what was an effort that might have lacked some focus to begin with.
But to Peko's credit, and possibly his family, now that he is a new father, and a couple of Oregon St. coaching staffs that believed in him, or at least his size, he's finally eligible to do more than practice and participate in spring games and scrimmages.
It immediately adds depth to the middle of the defensive line, whether in the 3-4 alignment defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a and defensive coordinator Kalani Stake plan to use as Oregon St.'s base defense, or in a 4 man front in short yardage and goal line situations.
6'2", 291 lb. Jalen Grimble was last year's similarly anticipated transfer star, and at times lived up to similar expectations, but also experienced injury issues, and did so again in the spring, so though he is expected to be fully healthy when summer camp opens next week, the Beavers need depth at the position.
And hopefully, a good competition to determine who starts in the middle.
Spring ball suggests it could well be Peko, but Grimble has had his moments as well. At this point, I think its a moot point, except to Peko and Grimble, as I expect both to see extended action. Bodies this big, especially when up against the increasingly fast past offenses that are the norm in college football, and in warm weather, need breaks if they are to remotely approach playing at their best.
It's also not outside the realm of reason that Sr. Ali;i Robbins and Jr. Noke Tago (who, at 6'2" & 304 is just as large) will see some snaps as well, and the Beavers have depth for even jumbo package situations in any event.
And that doesn't account for redshirt freshman Kalani Vakameilalo, who is the biggest of the bunch. At 6'3" and 318 lbs. (according to the latest roster/freight scale receipt), the Hawaiian, whose' name Oregon St.'s D coaches can actually pronounce AND spell, he has a huge future for the Beavers.
With Grimble and Peko both 1 and dones, and Robins out after this year as well, and Tago after next year, its possible that that future for Vakameilalo is in a year or two, but my bet is he gets not just a shot, but will show up in games in important situations. Maybe not in the first week or two, but certainly before the season is over.
Given that the Pac-12, the conference of quarterbacks, is deeper and stronger at RB this season than in any of the last several, how things go at the middle of the D-line could well be the difference between a 3-4 win season and a bowl trip for the Beavers.
And with Peko on the field, trending just took a shift toward Oregon St. still playing for the postseason down the stretch.