Oregon State TE Caleb Smith was expected to be an impact player for the Beavers this season, and the senior shared those high hopes for himself.
After showing flashes of brilliance, but also struggling at times, during his first 3 years at Oregon State, Smith had a strong spring and summer, and appeared to be ready to finish his career in grand fashion.
That might still happen, but it will have to wait for another year. Today after practice, Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen announced that Smith is done for the season. Fortunately, having played as a true freshman, the Beavers' preferred starting tight end still has an available red-shirt season, and having played in only 2 games, well below the threshold, thus will qualify, and Smith can return in 2016.
Smith played ill in the season opener against Weber State, not starting and not recording a catch. Watching his performance, which included a hard to explain drop, it appeared that he probably shouldn't have played.
Smith started at Michigan, but only had 1 catch, for just 9 yards. He was a game time scratch for the San Jose State game, though he appeared on his way to being healthy, and it seemed to be a case of limited preparation time.
However, Smith was a scratch as of walk-through for last week's Stanford game, and wasn't seen in the late game glimpse yesterday.
Today, Andersen announced 2 red-shirts, including Smith's.
The staff has frustratingly been coy and vague about Smith's condition (mononucleosis is the probable diagnosis), but Andersen has determined that he's not going to be up to 100% for a while yet, and doesn't want to lose a year of eligibility over a at best limited amount of playing time for and from him.
The other Beaver whose' season is over is freshman RB Deltron Sands, who was injured in the Stanford game, after 3 carries for 10 yards, his best effort of the season, against San Jose State.
Sands has played in 1/3 of the season's games, but Andersen had decided that having reached both the drop dead point in participation, and the bye week, which allows time to recalibrate rotations, that retaining 4 years of eligibility would be the best use of Sands' time. For him, its the best of both worlds, having gotten his feet wet without it costing him anything.
Kellen Clute has gotten the starts at TE with Smith not up to speed, with converted quarterback Brent VanderVeen the second TE, and that will continue going forward.
With Sands out, Ryan Nall, who is a much bigger back, but was effective at times against Stanford, will likely see his role further expand, and Damien Haskins, who seemed to slide down the depth chart after a solid summer camp, will doubtless bubble back up the depth chart (if Andersen still had one).
Chris Brown, who missed the second half of the San Jose State game and sat out the Stanford game, after suffering a leg contusion shortly before halftime against the Spartans, is also expected to be healthy again after the bye week, and ready for the Arizona game.
The team will be off until Sunday, as a portion of the coaching staff is already out on the recruiting trail, and more will be leaving this afternoon.