Riley in search of the "next Ev"

WARD, McCANTS, AGNEW

MIKE RILEY HAS spent much of this fall camp looking for it. The question is, will he find it here in the waning days before the Beavs' opener on Sept. 3. Or is that decision timetable perhaps more likely to be addressed headed into Week 2 at Wisconsin?

After a recent fall camp practice, Mike Riley related a conversation to the Seattle Times he had had the night previous with BeavGreat Yvenson Bernard, who burst onto the scene in 2004. Bernard went on to become OSU's third-leading career rusher during his time in Corvallis, (2004-07).

"I said, 'We gotta find another Ev,' " Riley told the newspaper.

Indeed.

It didn't look like that was in the cards in fall camp's early going – nary a one was looking like they would emerge over a large group that included Ryan McCants, Jordan Jenkins (limited due to injury), Jovan Stevenson, Terron Ward, Malcolm Agnew, Storm Woods and Malcolm Marable.

But then Ward began to show signs. Agnew then loudly announced his candidacy in the first scrimmage with an excellent session.

Ward and Agnew are true freshmen, and college coaches hate to put all their running back trust in a true frosh. But Riley did so with Quizz, and if either Agnew or Ward can close with a vengeance in the final days of fall camp, the guess here is he will be the guy who gets the nod twelve days from now.

If not, Ryan McCants is probably the starter, at least for Week 1 against Sac State.

And Riley might go that route regardless – have McCants handle to bulk of the load no matter what in order to give Wisconsin precious little tape-wise, on Agnew or Ward, to plan for in what figures to be a very large stage for the Beavs in Week 2.

The frosh RB focus this offseason in the media was more on Woods and Marable, but Agnew (5-8, 188) is the one who is gaining the most ink now. He has solid NFL bloodlines too -- dad is Ray Agnew was an 11-year NFL pro defensive lineman from 1990-2001 with New England, the New York Giants and St. Louis.

The 5-foot-7 Ward drew praise aplenty from teammates this spring. He has a lot of natural talent, and gamebreaking ability.

But he got dinged up earlier in fall camp. So did Marable. So did Woods. And Jenkins is still feeling his way back from injury.

BF.C senior writer Grady Garrett, following the first official scrimmage, said the early signs pointed to Marable and Woods out of the picture for the starting job. Marable later started practicing with the corners, a move that looks to be permanent. During the situational period, Stevenson got the third-down reps with the first-team and looks likely be that third-down option, with regularity, for OSU.

That would leave us with McCants, Agnew and Ward battling it out, Garrett said. Of those three, Ward, now healthy, saw the most third-down work, so perhaps it could turn into McCants vs. Agnew for the starting job – but there's no way you can rule out Ward at this point, Garrett also noted.

McCants ran hard in the scrimmage, Garrett said, but Agnew ran a little bit harder. And so it continues..

"We're going to have to play like crazy," Riley told the Times. "When plays are there to be made, we're going to have to make them. The margin for error will not be great."

He was speaking to the horrid injury situation that has befallen Oregon State this offseason and on into the fall.

But he could just as well have been speaking about the running backs.

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