Nine players transferred to schools around the nation. Most cited playing time as the main reason they left the program.
- Freshman quarterback Anton Clarkston transferred to Hofstra
- Sophomore running back Josh Farrell transferred to 2003 Beaver opponent Sacramento State
- Freshman defensive tackle Matthis Gehring transferred to Portland State
- Junior tailback Riley Jenkins transferred to Linfield
- Sophomore cornerback Rodney Landingham transferred to the University of Nevada where he will play football with his brother.
- Freshman linebacker Tone Taupule transferred to a junior college in California
- Junior wide receiver Deondre Alexander transferred to Montana State
- Freshman quarterback Danny Southwick will transfer to a Utah junior college or the University of Utah
- Sophomore defensive end Nic Sonntag plans on transferring to a Utah junior college.
|Jayson Boyd was just one of three academic casualties.|
The Beavers also lost three players to academics. Senior defensive end Noah Happe was the first academic casualty. After learning he would not make the team, Happe quickly declared for the NFL draft. After several tryouts including one with the New York Jets, Happe was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals only to be released a few weeks later.
Sophomore wide receiver Jayson Boyd also did not make the grade and will play junior college ball in California. The Beavers plan on staying with Boyd in hopes of getting him back in the program.
Freshman Travis Brown also did not the team because of academics. The wide receiver will most likely play football at a junior college or division II school.
The 2003 recruiting class also took a hit as six players out of the 23 player class did not qualify for fall ball. Many of the non-qualifiers were considered the top recruits of the class.
- Lake Oswego linebacker Keith Robertson
- Dominguez cornerback Anthony Wheat-Brown
- Desert Vista running back Clinton Polk
- Polytechnic running back Lorenzo Bursey
- Valencia running back Charles Burnley
- Lebanon Union tight end Zach Hagemeister (Will enroll in the Winter term at OSU)
Offensive lineman Patrick Wu left the team for personal reasons.
In addition to the 2003 class taking a hit, two highly regarded 2002 recruits failed to qualify this year. As a result, both will be playing junior college ball in 2003.
|Robert Herbert will be playing at Chaffey Community College this year.|
Wide receiver James Finely will play at Compton Community College, while cornerback Robert Herbert will play at Chaffey Community College. The Beavers will stay with both recruits in hopes of bringing them back to Corvallis, although Finely has already made it known that he plans to test the re-recruiting waters.
There are several lesser known players that decided the orange and black was not for them. Players that left the program, but participated in spring drills include:
- Freshman kicker Erik Lovro
- Junior linebacker Ryan Kanekeberg left to focus on baseball.
- Freshman tailback Andrew Taylor
- Freshman quarterback Brandon Jones
Assessing the Damage
The obvious effect of a high number of players leaving is depth. Depth helps during games, practices, and gives the team a personnel safety cushion against injuries over the long season. It gives coaches more options and helps players stay at the top of their games as they compete for playing time against groups of talented peers.
The Beavers lost three potential starters in Happe, Boyd and Jamerson. While other players have stepped up nicely to fill in the voids, the knowledge and experience that each brought to the game will be sorely missed.
Perhaps the hardest hit group was the wide receivers corps that lost Boyd, Brown, and Alexander. Each would have had the opportunity to contribute in 2003.
Many well-known athletes are leaving and it is easy to overlook the absence of Jenkins, Farrell, Taupule and other lesser known players, but the mass exodus by the lower classman will have an effect on special teams.
Special teams often serve as a catalyst for more playing time. For example, remember Darnell Robinson on special teams in 1998? He was seemingly everywhere on the field during kickoff and punt coverage. His hard work eventually paid off with a starting position and an integral part in the rise of the Beaver football program.
Underclassman leaving before the season starts do not give themselves a chance to prove their on the field worth to their coaches. There is sure to be some loss to future Beaver squads with these players exiting.
Each year there are a number of players that will leave a college football team between the months of April and August. Last year the Beavers lost six players due to grades and injures. There will always be players that realize that they will not get significant playing time at the PAC-10 level of college football and choose to move on. However, as even the most casual fan has noticed, this year the numbers of players leaving is large.
There are a couple of reasons for the unusually high number of players leaving. First, Mike Riley brings a different system and coaching style to Corvallis and players have had to acclimate to the changes. Some chose to leave rather than acclimate. Second, the NCAA changed a rule that requires higher academic standards for athletes.
The loss in personnel has been large, but Beaver faithful should not be alarmed. There are more scholarships available for new players. Mike Riley and his staff are great recruiters and will bring in kids that perform well on the field and in the classroom. The staff already has five verbal commitments including four from the state of Oregon.