Oregon State haven't been on top of their A-game when it comes to in-state recruiting the past few years. Gary Andersen proclaimed when he was hired that he wanted to build a fence around the state of Oregon and to keep the best talent in the state. Unfortunately, that didn't goes as planned as Andersen mysteriously left halfway through the 2017 season and for the past few years the Beavers have lost out on landing in state talent not only to other PAC-12 schools, but to their arch-rival in Eugene as well. Not a good look. The Beavers have missed out on multiple high level talent recruits from the Beaver State (pun intended) since Andersen took over as head coach. Missing on running back Cameron Scarlett (Stanford) and quarterback Eric Dungey (Syracuse) from the 2015 class, linebacker LaMar Winston (Oregon), safety Brady Breeze (Oregon), tight end Cameron McCormick (Oregon), quarterback Justin Herbert (Oregon), quarterback Sam Noyer (Colorado), Jacob Kizer (Washington) all from the 2016 class, and finally, defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu (USC), cornerback Elijah Molden (Washington), offensive tackle Alex Forsyth (Oregon), linebacker Daniel Green (Kansas State), defensive tackle Brandon Pili (USC), cornerback Demetrius Douglas (Minnesota), offensive guard Cody Shear (Oregon), and offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland (Washington) all from the class of 2017.
However, with Cory Hall having been the interim head coach since October 9th, the Beavers have been prioritizing in state recruits by offering multiple under the radar prospects as well as underclassmen throughout the state resulting in landing a commitment from both Keishon Dawkins from West Linn High School on October 30th and Bradley Bickler from Southridge High School on November 1st.
Saturday afternoon the class of 2019 had added it's first name as local defensive line prospect Kelsen Hennessy from Clackamas High School became Oregon State's first verbal commitment as first reported by Andrew Nemec of The Oregonian Saturday afternoon.
Oregon State has a new verbal commitment... stay tuned!— Andrew Nemec (@AndrewNemec) November 19, 2017
2019 Clackamas DL Kelsen Hennessy (@khenn023) has verbally committed to Oregon State: 'This has always been the school I wanted to go to and has been since I started playing football.' pic.twitter.com/VDg2iRIo2i— Andrew Nemec (@AndrewNemec) November 19, 2017
Here is a Q&A I had with Hennessy on Saturday evening after his commitment:
Lucas Aguilar: Has your phone been blowing up since you announced your commitment?
Kelsen Hennessy: “My face has been in my phone all day.”
LA: Have you been getting a lot of encouraging messages from current players, coaches, other recruits as well?
KH: “They’ve been coming in nonstop, as we speak I’m still getting blown up. All of my good friends and many people from my old hometown of Oregon city have been congratulating me left and right. I feel like Isaiah Smalls, who also is committed to Oregon State, is taking me under his wing already. I’m getting a really positive vibe from him already.”
LA: That's got to be a really good feeling having those people reach out to you to congratulate you, seeing all of the support from family, friends, teammates, coaches, etc. Smalls is awesome! He's been a really good player recruiter for Oregon State since he committed, I feel like the Beavers owe him a huge thank you for putting most of the 2018 class together to be honest haha. What're some of the things Smalls has been telling you? Just to congratulate you?
KH: “He’s been trying to reach out to me as much as possible. He added me in this group chat full of 2018 recruits and welcomed me to the Beaver family. He’s acting like we’ve known each other for years and I really just started talking to him today. This is a really good feeling to have, being new to the recruiting world.”
LA: He's not shy at all when it comes to recruiting other players, he wants to play with the best and is doing all he can to try and get those guys, much like yourself, to Corvallis. Do you think you might do the same thing Smalls has done? Become one of the "player-recruiter" leaders in the 2019 class? Especially recruiting the in state kids to stay in state and play for OSU.
KH: “My goal has always been to be the best leader I could be. Oregon State has always been my favorite school, so of course I want them to have as much success as possible. I am going to try to do what I can to make Oregon State football as successful as possible.”
LA: Beaver fans will love hearing that message Kelsen, that is all we want from our players! How was your overall experience at Oregon State today for your unofficial visit? Obviously the result of the game didn't turn out the way we wanted it to but I assume you were able to feel at home enough that after you got that offer, you wanted to commit.
KH: “This wasn’t my first unofficial visit to Corvallis, every time I go there is a great experience. But today was more special than any other time I have visited Oregon State because I received my first offer. Today has been surreal. Vince Guinta is a great guy, and he is a big reason I ended up in this position. Coach Hall, from what I have seen of him so far, is a great person and coach. I believe he can turn the Beaver football program around. He brings such a positive and fun energy to the table that rubs off on other people and it certainly has on me. I want to play for Coach Hall. I love everything about him and what he brings to the program. Oregon State has been my dream school since I have started playing football in the 3rd grade. And I always knew Oregon State is the place for me. I know whole heartedly that this opportunity will not do my wrong. My grandfather, Richard Hennessy, played at Oregon State as a freshman as a defensive lineman then later transferred to Lewis & Clark College to finish his football career. I thought it would be really cool to follow in his footsteps.”
LA: Guinta is a great guy! I really like the work he and Darrick Yray have done since they first arrived on campus. Coach Hall sounds like an outstanding person both on and off the field. His season completely changed too when Gary Andersen decided to step down because that's a big move going from cornerback's coach to interim head coach in the middle of the season when he's had no previous head coaching experience. So I believe we owe a great deal of gratitude towards Cory Hall for the time and effort he has put into this team since he took over. I certainly believe that too Kelsen, you have all the talent and ability in the world to be a PAC-12 defensive lineman, you just have to continue to put in the hard work on and off the field every day to show that you're willing to outwork anyone to reach your goals.
LA: What do you make of all of the coaching rumors going around? Obviously it didn't stop you from committing to Oregon State, and I respect the heck out of you for committing to the university and the football program regardless of who the head coach is, but since you are still a junior, does it make you stop and think about getting to know a whole new coaching staff once this next head coach is named?
KH: “Honestly, I haven’t heard much of rumors going around. If Coach Hall does not end up the head coach, I will be disappointed, but it won’t stop me from coming to Oregon State. I’ve had too much history at Oregon State and have been a loyal fan for so long, I can’t see myself playing for any other team, regardless of who the new head coach is or how much the staff changes. I get along with everyone I meet fairly well. If the staff changes, I feel I will have no problems adjusting to a new staff.”
LA: I've heard and read all sorts of crazy names thrown out there. I do think the Beavers are getting closer to naming a head coach though, probably by the end of this month or beginning of December so they can get situated, recruit for the 2018 class, and get themselves established as a coaching staff. But again, that is exactly what Beaver fans want to hear from you Kelsen, we want players who WANT to and are dedicated to make OSU a winning football program. I believe you are versatile player and would be able to adapt to a different coaches' new system as well.
LA: Cole Turner is a guy Beaver fans are really hoping comes around and chooses Oregon State in the end, will their be any peer recruiting on your part to try and help Beaver’s chances that you two will be teammates on the next level? Or are you letting him make his own decision?
KH: “I don’t talk to Cole much, I don’t know how much influence I would have on him because of all the colleges interested in him. I will however ask him if he is still considering going to Oregon State and I will try to see what I can do to get him to come to Corvallis. But in the end, it is his decision.”
LA: You and the rest of your Clackamas team face Tigard High School this coming Friday in the first semifinal matchup, how will you and your team prepare for a very different team in Tigard compared to the teams you have faced previously?
KH: “Tigard is another team, it’s another football game, nothing changes for us as a team. No matter who we play and who we face, we believe we can win. It’s all heart when it comes to getting this deep in the playoffs. Who ever wants it more will take the win in the end. We want it and we’re going to take it.”
LA: What is your message to Beaver fans? This season has been a struggle to watch for most of them, what words of encouragement would you tell Beaver Nation about being optimistic about the future of Oregon State football?
KH: “I want to tell Beaver fans to stay hopeful and stay loyal to their team. Every team goes through seasons, in all sports in all levels. This program can be turned around and Oregon State is working hard to make that happen. Oregon State football will be back on track soon.”
Kelsen will continue to focus on the rest of his team’s playoff run as undefeated #2 Clackamas Cavaliers will face #6 Tigard Tigers in a big time semifinal matchup at 12:00PM on Friday November 24th at Hillsboro Stadium in Oregon.