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Depth Chart Deep Dive: Defense/Special Teams

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Way-to-early look at 2017’s depth chart.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Its time to focus on the defense and make our way-too-early-pre-roster depth chart predictions. The Beavers defense in 2016 was led by their surprisingly strong secondary, but will lose a few key players from that unit. The defense (especially the linebacking core) was hampered by injuries last season, but that could end up being a blessing in disguise. Let’s take a look at how the depth chart could look next season. Also, keep in mind that national signing day is less than a month away, so Oregon State could add a few talented recruits or junior college transfers that aren’t listed in the predictions below.

* Denotes incoming freshman or junior college transfer


DEFENSIVE LINE

The defensive line was YOUNG in 2016, which bodes well for the upcoming season. The Beavers won’t lose a single player who played significant snaps on the D-line. The experience gained (plus the addition of Craig Evans) will hopefully equate to an improved run defense.

DEFENSIVE END

Baker Pritchard, SR / 6-3 /272

Phillip Napoleon, SR / 6-4 / 284

NOSE TACKLE

Elu Aydon, SO-RS / 6-3 / 327

Sumner Houston, JR / 6-2 / 289

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Kalani Vakameilalo, JR / 6-3 / 311

*Craig Evans, JR / 6-3 / 305

*Josh Bowcut, FR / 6-5 / 280


LINEBACKERS

The linebackers also look to be in excellent shape headed into the 2017 season. Losing Caleb Saulo is a big blow to the defense, but this group suffered a ton of injuries in 2016, meaning a lot of different players saw significant playing time. Ugwoegbu and Hungalu are impact players to watch.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (F)

Bright Ugwoegbu, JR / 6-2 / 226

Adam Soesman, JR / 6-1 / 220

Joah Robinett, SO / 6-7 / 236

Hamlicar Rashed Jr., SO / 6-4 / 222

INSIDE LINEBACKER (M)

Manase Hungalu, SR / 6-1 / 232

Hamilton Hunt, SO-RS / 6-0 / 226

INSIDE LINEBACKER (R)

Jonathan Willis, JR / 6-1 / 228

Wesley Payne, SR / 5-10 / 215

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (B)

Andrzej Hughes-Murray, SO / 6-2 / 235

Titus Failauga, SR / 6-3 / 249

*David Morris, FR / 6-3 / 210

Shemar Smith, SO / 6-1 / 227


SECONDARY

The strength of the 2016 season will deal with quite a bit of turnover headed into the 2017 season. Standouts Treston Decoud and Devin Chappell are gone. Thankfully the Beavers will welcome back Xavier Crawford who’s outstanding freshman season earned him Freshman All-American honors. They will look to fill the gaps around him with upcoming players and potential junior college transfers.

CORNERBACK

Jay Irvine, SO-RS / 6-1 / 199

Shawn Wilson, SO-RS / 5-9 / 187

*Justin Gardner, FR / 6-2 / 160

SAFETY

Brandon Arnold, SR / 5-11 / 206

Jalen Moore, SO-RS / 6-0 / 212

SAFETY

Omar Hicks-Onu, SO-RS / 6-1 / 198

Landry Payne, SR / 6-0 / 195

CORNERBACK

Xavier Crawford, SO-RS / 6-1 / 188

Kyle White, SR / 6-0 / 207

*Jeffery Manning Jr, FR / 6-1 / 185

NICKEL BACK

Dwayne Williams, JR / 5-9 / 180

Shawn Wilson, SO-RS / 5-9 / 187


SPECIAL TEAMS

The punting game should remain steady with Nick Porebski returning for his senior season. The Beavers will be forced to replace Victor Bolden Jr. though. He’s handled kick and punt return basically since he’s arrived in Corvallis, but now that he’s exhausted his eligibility Oregon State will have to turn elsewhere.

PAT-FG

Jordan Choukair, SO / 6-1 / 195

KICKOFF

Adley Rutschman, SO / 6-1 / 206

PUNTER

Nick Porebski, SR / 5-10 / 198

Daniel Rodriguez, SO-RS / 5-10 / 201

LONG SNAPPER

Connor Kelsey, SO / 6-0 / 225

HOLDER

Nick Porebski, SR / 5-10 / 198

Timmy Hernandez, JR / 6-0 / 195

PUNT RETURN

Trevon Bradford, SO / 6-0 / 183

KICK RETURN

Artavis Pierce, SO / 6-0 / 220