OSU FIRST LOOK: Strong Northwest 2012 crop

CORVALLIS OL ISAAC SEUMALO

WITH THE INK barely dry on the 2011 Letters of Intent, it's time to take a first, in-depth look at Northwest prospects already on the radar of the Oregon State coaching staff for 2012. Here's the skinny on 15 seniors-to-be coming off big junior years -- prospects who could be among the most talked about in Oregon State recruiting circles over the coming year.

The following is not meant to be a Top-15 list, rather it is a look at some of the outstanding soon-to-be seniors who 1) distinguished themselves in 2010 and 2) look to have the two factors Mike Riley is looking for in his recruits..

During his Signing Day presser last week, Riley stressed that no matter the position, finding athletes who possess two things -- exceptional speed and athleticism -- was the top priority. One way that helps the staff evaluate a recruit's versatility and athleticism is to see if the recruit is capable of playing adeptly on both sides of the ball and excelling in other sports—particularly basketball and/or track & field.

The Northwest Class of 2012 looks to be a deep group of prospects. In fact, the "recruiting gurus" out there are already calling the 2012 Northwest field one of the best in recent memory.

Here are a few of the athletes who have shown excellence on the field, and who already are or could become high value OSU targets.

One of the most anticipated recruits for the 2012 class is Corvallis, Oregon's Isaac Seumalo, son of Beaver d-line coach, Joe Seumalo. Rated 4-stars on Scout.com, the 6-3, 275 pounder was his conference's Player of the Year in 2010 and dominated on both sides of the ball—but is projected as an OG at the next level. Already holding a Beaver offer, OSU fans are hoping for an early commit. Seumalo dominated at the OSU, UO and UW summer camps this past summer, and some are already projecting him as a can't-miss type of prospect.

OL Zach Banner out of Lakes High in Lakewood, Wash. is a monster and considered one of the top recruits in the entire nation. The 6-9, 295 pound 4-star offensive lineman has shown amazing athleticism for his size – he's considering playing two-sports at the college level: football and basketball, and sports 20-plus D-IA offers already. Cal and Washington have already offered Banner in both sports.

OL/DL Alex Balducci from Portland's Central Catholic High plays both sides of the ball but is projected by many as a DE with HUGE upside potential. The 3-star, 6-5, 260-pounder is receiving interest throughout the Pac-12 and currently holds known offers from both the Ducks and Huskies—with more on the way.

OL Joshua Garnett hails from Puyallup High in Puyallup, Wash. He's rated 4-stars and the 6-5, 272 pound recruit plays with a desire and motor that never quits. Garnett currently has known offers from WSU, UW, UCLA and Stanford. His father is former NFL d-lineman Scott Garnett. In this case, the fruit definitely has not fallen far from the tree…

DE Lochlin Deeks of West Salem High was named first team all-league the past two years running and is likely to three-peat in 2011. He checks in at 6-3, 260 pounds and was a standout performer at the 2010 OSU and UO Nike combines. A solid camp circuit and/or senior year could see his stock go up dramatically.

RB Keivarae Russell rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2010. The 3-star yardage machine from Mariner High School in Everett, Wash. is a quick, slashing, cutting runner. At 5-11, 170 pounds, he's also elusive, and a strong college defensive back prospect. Currently holds offers from Cal, Washington, WSU, and Wyoming.

ATH Maximo Junior Espitia of South Salem High is one of the state's most versatile, physical athletes. At 6-3, 205 pounder, Espitia projects as a WR at the next level although, because of his athleticism, he may get some interest as a safety. Regardless of position, and that he goes by "Junior", we're guessing fans will love the first name.

OL Nathan Dean is a hoss with some serious "attitude". Due to his size and athleticism, the 3-star, 6-6, 270 pounder could play either OG or OT and is expected to be heavily recruited this coming year. Said to be a hard worker in the weight room, the Juanita High product of out Kirkland, Wash. is working on adding more strength and muscle to get ready for an aggressive summer camp schedule.

WR Jamarr Graves from Grant High is a big play receiver. Graves (6-4, 195) is long and athletic and various recruiting writers have raved about his "unbelievable" and "outstanding" athletic ability. To wit, Graves is also an outstanding basketball player.

WR Michael Rector is a 3-star prospect from Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. At 6-2, 185, Rector sports a high football IQ. Quick and athletic, Rector boasts a reportedly blazing 4.3 in the 40 and was his conference's Offensive MVP as well as an all-league kick returner. No known offers yet, but that might change quickly.

LB Daniel Halverson is another prospect from Grant. Halverson (6-3, 227) has size and speed on his side and was first team all-league in 2010 and was named all-conference the past two years. Following a successful USAAA Underclassmen Combine, Halverson looks to be creating a buzz throughout the Pac-12—and possibly beyond.

WR Trent Sewell is a 3-star athlete out of Bothell High School in Bothell, WA. The 6-3, 190-pound speedster is a track and field star in the sprints and high jump, and Sewell's father was a track and field star at WSU. The athletic Sewell holds offers from WSU and Washington—but plans to visit Oregon and Oregon State this summer.

LB Joel Skotte from Mountain View High in Bend lists Oregon State as his top choice. A productive 6-3, 227-pound ‘backer (and tailback) prospect was the 2010 Intermountain Conference Defensive Player of the Year -- as well as the state's leading tackler (162) according to maxpreps.com. An outstanding athlete with a nonstop motor, Skotte also plays basketball and runs track.

TE Eric Lemke attends Issaquah High in Issaquah, Wash. Lemke (6-4, 230) is a punishing blocker with sure, soft hands. Like 2011 OSU recruit, Kellen Clute, Lemke figures to be a "project" who needs to add weight and muscle to ultimately develop into the tight end he's capable of becoming. On the near-term side, Lemke is very athletic and very physical—traits that cannot be taught.

ATH/RB Steven Long led Sherwood High (Sherwood, OR) to the State 5A championship in 2010. The 5-7, 175-pound firecracker was the Championship MVP, rushing for 217 yards and two TDs. For the season, Long averaged nearly 10.5 yards per carry and scored 14 TDs while piling up nearly 1,400 yards. He also had nearly 400 receiving yards and four receiving TDs. An outstanding athlete for the Bowmen, Long's production and versatility reminds some of Washington's Jordan Polk – and Jacquizz Rodgers.

CB Tyler Hasty had an outstanding camp at OSU last summer and then went on to lead Bellevue High (Bellevue, WA) to its third straight state title in December. The 6-0, 175-pound Hasty was a standout on defense during the championship game. Quick, physical and athletic, Hasty comes from a long line of defensive football stars. Hasty's father, James, was a long-time NFL defensive back after starring at WSU, while older brother J.R. Hasty played at UW and Central Washington.

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