When Ryan Nall was recruited to Corvallis, he was a three-star tight end out of Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon.
Coinciding with Nall’s arrival in Corvallis was Gary Andersen’s arrival as head coach. Nall suddenly found himself running the ball in spot situations, a few carries per game, amassing a total of 73 carries as a freshman. Except: this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill tight end carrying the ball. Nall, at 6’2” and 234 pounds, electrified crowds with his bulldozer runs. He racked up 455 yards on those 73 carries (an average of 6.2 yards per carry), and fans began to wonder if they weren’t witnessing the emergence of a surprise superstar.
Despite that first-year promise, entering his sophomore year, Gary Andersen wanted to move Nall to linebacker. According to Danny Moran of OregonLive.com, had running backs coach Telly Lockette not intervened, we almost never witnessed the treat that was Nall’s sophomore campaign.
What we would have missed was 147 carries for 951 yards (an average of 6.5 yards per carry), including a 221 yard performance—on just 14 carries!—against California, and also a four-touchdown effort to end the Oregon Ducks’ 8-year Civil War win streak.
If Ryan Nall never plays another game for the Beavers, he would still be remembered as a beacon of hope during what has been a trying two seasons in Corvallis, as 2015 & 2016 saw Oregon State go 6-18 overall, and only 3-15 in Pac-12 play.
And yet, to the delight of everyone that roots for the orange and black, we will (most likely) get to see Nall carry the ball for two more seasons. The soon-to-be junior has already shown that he has the talent and the heart to lead the Beavers, and should get the opportunity to dazzle NFL scouts as an upperclassman.
The 2017 season still seems a long way off, but with Nall at the midpoint of his collegiate career the question might soon become: How high can Nall climb in the Oregon State record book for career rushing yards?
Oregon State’s top ten career rushing leaders are currently:
- Ken Simonton - 5,044 yards
- Jaquizz Rodgers - 3,877 yards
- Yvenson Bernard - 3,862 yards
- Steven Jackson - 3,625 yards
- Storm Woods - 2,674 yards
- Dave Schilling - 2,552 yards
- Pete Pifer - 2,223 yards
- Bill Enyart - 2,155 yards
- J.J. Young - 2,084 yards
- Sam Baker - 1,947 yards
Nall’s 1,406 rushing yards have him 541 yards shy of Sam Baker’s #10 spot. He’ll reach this mark easily in the 2017 season. In fact, his ascent might be faster than even these raw totals suggest, as Nall has only five career games with 15 or more carries. As amazing as it seems, and as many defenders as we’ve already witnessed him drag downfield, his workload should increase in 2017 and 2018.
If Nall simply matches his outstanding sophomore season in 2017, he’ll finish the year with 2,357 rushing yards and be #7 in the record books. If he (again) matches his sophomore season in 2018, he’ll have 3,308 rushing yards and be #5 all-time in a Beavers uniform.
Now: take another look at that top four in the all-time Oregon State standings. Steven Jackson sits at #4 with a near-1,000 yard lead on #5 Storm Woods. The foursome of Simonton, Rodgers, Bernard, and Jackson are arguably the most loved of the Beaver running backs, and certainly stand as the Mount Rushmore of Beaver ballcarriers.
(This might be the place to note that both Jaquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson reached their respective totals in just three years, both leaving Oregon State for the NFL after their junior seasons.)
Nall, by matching his sophomore campaign two more times, would be only 317 yards away from knocking Jackson to #5 all-time. True, that’s calculating for no regression whatsoever. But it’s also calculating for no improvement in Nall’s numbers either.
With the abilities that Ryan “The Wrecking Ball” Nall has already showcased to Beaver Nation, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him threaten to rise even higher than Steven Jackson in the record books. If Nall—who went from 455 rushing yards as a freshman to 951 rushing yards as a sophomore—can average 1,236 rushing yards over the next two seasons, he will have the second-most rushing yards of any Beaver. Ever.
With Ryan Nall steamrolling his way into the record books, it appears that Ken Simonton—Oregon State’s career rushing leader with 5,044 yards—is the only man that Nall might not be able to run down.