“It’s not you, it’s me.”
Probably not the exact words that Oregon State Head Coach Gary Anderson used to “break-up” with select players immediately after the 2015-16 football season -- but something along those lines. Following the surprise effort the Beavers put together in the 52-42 loss to the Oregon ducks in the 119th Civil War, one thing was pretty clear: “We’ll have some honest discussions...and see where we are” Anderson said.
In the aftermath, six Beavers transferred including starters Rommel Mageo and Justin Strong. Additionally, quarterback Nick Mitchell, linebacker/nickelback Malik Gilmore, defensive lineman Luke Hollingsworth and defensive back Chris Hayes all announced their departure from Oregon State.
The discussions that coach Anderson and his staff had with the Oregon State players were not entirely based upon talent or work ethic. The success that the ex-Beavers have had thus far in their new programs demonstrates this. Rather, coach Anderson had to be honest about players fit and role within his vision for the team. And certain players like Rommel Mageo had to be honest about the direction of the program and where they wanted to spend the remaining year(s) of their eligibility.
Coach Anderson had previously had the discussion revolving around ‘program fit’ in spring 2015 with quarterback Luke Del Rio. While a talented pocket passer, Del Rio would not be mistaken for a running threat.
Change is not easy. While the players may not have fit within the new schemes at Oregon State, several are making an impact on the field at their new programs:
Rommel Mageo - Ole Miss:
The Rebels quietly picked up Mageo as an immediate fill-in for C.J. Johnson at middle linebacker and he has been running with their first string defense at middle linebacker. Mageo can play immediately due to the graduate transfer rule. There were reports that Mageo had to adjust to the SEC speed of play, but is learning the new playbook quickly and has been lauded for being big and physical. Mageo’s size also impressed at least one Ole Miss reporter.
Luke Del Rio - Florida:
On Thursday, Del Rio was named the Gators starting QB by head coach Jim McElwain after sitting out the 2015-16 season per transfer rules. Del Rio was in competition with Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby after coach McElwain refused to name a starter for most of fall camp. Del Rio appeared to emerge as a front-runner for the job during the spring, where he went 10-for-11 with 176 yards and two touchdowns in the Orange & Blue Debut, but was not confirmed until recently.
Luke Del Rio, son of Raiders HC Jack Del Rio, has been named Florida’s starting QB for season opener. https://t.co/uIm4Ga9Qqm— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 18, 2016
Justin Strong - Montana:
Strong joined transfer TJ Reynard (Wisconsin) to bolster a secondary already featuring last year’s transfers Yamen Sanders (Arizona) and Markell Sanders (Washington State). Numerous sources state that the secondary is a major strength of the Grizzly defense with Strong playing a key role. In Montana’s second fall scrimmage, Strong was one of the top tacklers with five and and he snagged an INT.
Nick Mitchell - Dixie State:
Mitchell transferred to Dixie State, which is below the Football Bowl Subdivision Level, and thus is eligible to play immediately in 2016. He is battling sophomore Tyson Blackner who was the Dixie State’s starter last season. Regardless of whether he wins outright, Mitchell may see action as Dixie State head coach Shay McClure has been known to utilize multiple players in different situations based off of skill-sets.
Luke Hollingsworth - Southern Utah University:
Hollingsworth will play immediately after transferring to Southern Utah and will be in the two-deep on the defensive line behind entrenched starters Torgerson and Vaa’ivaka. Thunderbird’s head coach Demario Warren has praised Hollingsworth and the defensive line and expects to leverage his depth at the position to maintain pressure on opposing offenses.
Chris Hayes - Portland State University:
Re-locating 90 minutes north of Corvallis, Hayes joined the preseason No. 17 FCS Vikings on defense and looks to make in-game plays after spending two years on Oregon State’s scout team. Hayes will compete with Junior College transfer Taylor Biaggi and PSU juniors Beau Duronslet and Tyler Foreman to replace Viking All-American and National Defensive Player of the Year finalist Patrick Onwuasor.