Ordinarily, the recruit that gets most fans excited is the big offensive threat. The strong armed quarterback, or the blazing fast running back. And Oregon State can certainly use the help they are getting at both of those positions.
But the recruit that could make the biggest difference in the coming seasons for the Beavers could well be Phillip Napoleon, and the only thing he will have to do with flashy offense is preventing it.
Much has been made about the struggles of the Oregon State defense during last year's 2-10 campaign, and statistically, its a fact that the line backers and secondary struggled significantly. But its also true that they were asked to do more than they could be hoped to accomplish, even had they not been relatively inexperienced and frightfully young.
The reality of the matter was that opposing quarterbacks often had 5, 6, even 7 seconds to survey the defense, and for receivers and backs to work for that long to find a seam or a gap. And then, make an un-pressured throw. As a result, a lot of plays that were initially well covered, and wouldn't have worked had they had less time to work, turned out to be big plays, often drive sustaining or game changing ones.
The reality is regardless of whether an opponent is running a spread, the read-option, or a pro-style attack, there has to be some urgency for the quarterback to make a decision and do something, but all too often, there wasn't.
Compounding that problem, the defensive line has to be almost totally rebuilt this season due to departures all across.
So some sort of edge rush has to get established for Oregon State to improve defensively. Enter Napoleon.
The 6'5", 255 lb. defensive end from Mt. San Jacinto California Community College recorded 84 tackles in his 2 seasons with the Eagles. More importantly, 24 1/2 were for a loss, and 9 1/2 were sacks. This in 10 game seasons, not 12.
Napoleon filed his Letter Of Intent back on December 16, the earliest day in the early signing period he could make a commitment official, selecting Oregon State and Coach Gary Andersen over Pac-12 rival Washington State, Big XII schools Texas Tech and Iowa State, Purdue of the B1G Ten, Colorado State, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Utah State from the Mt. West, and Ohio.
If Napoleon can become a force in forcing opposing quarterbacks to act with haste, it could be the key to the back 8 in the Oregon State defense staging a sizable turnaround.
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