When last we saw the Oregon State football team there were tears of joy, hugs,
and other arrays of emotions after the Beavers thrilling come from behind victory
over Missouri at the 2006 Sun Bowl.
When the team returns to the field in April it will be back to business for
a club that returns 61 lettermen and 17 starters as it aims for the programs
fifth bowl game in six years.
At just about every position we have built depth that is the foundation
for this season and future ones, seventh-year head coach Mike Riley said.
We need to solidify a couple of positions, particularly quarterback, but
even there I have a lot of confidence in the players we have competing for the
For Oregon State, spring practice begins April 2 with the culmination on April
28 with the annual session-ending scrimmage at Reser Stadium.
Without a doubt the biggest question mark for 2007 is at quarterback, where
the team will have a new starter for the first time since the opener of the
05 season. Riley and company will be looking to replace Sun Bowl MVP Matt Moore after he led the team to eight victories in the last nine games, including
wins over nationally ranked USC
Sophomores Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao figure to be competing this spring.
Canfield played in eight games last season as a reserve, completing 28 of 45
pass attempts for 335 yards and two touchdowns. He possesses a strong arm, similar
to former three-year starter Derek Anderson (2002-04), but with more mobility.
Sean certainly possess s a lot of qualities you look for in a quarterback,
Riley said. The key is to get him repetitions and make him feel comfortable
with the offense and the personnel around him. He will be a very good quarterback
before his career is over.
Moevao impressed the coaches in practice last season during his redshirt year
and while outsiders have penciled in Canfield for the starting job, its
not that clear.
The quarterback job is open, Riley said prior to spring practice.
Moevao has some physical abilities and a competitive fire that make him
an intriguing possibility. We wouldnt have brought Lyle into the program
if we didnt think he had a chance to make significant contributions.
Senior Ryan Gunderson, who has one start during his career, is also in the
mix. Also on the roster are redshirt-freshmen Brennan Sim, the son of a former
Beaver standout player (Tim Sim), and incoming freshman Jake Gelakoska.
be a Doak Walker Award candidate as he enters the season as one of the top running
backs in the nation he is senior do it all back Yvenson Bernard.
Bernard has a legitimate chance to finish his career in the top-10 all-time
in the Pac-10 for rushing joining the likes of former Beaver greats Ken Simonton
and Steven Jackson, and other conference standouts like Ricky Bell, Anthony Davis and Gaston Green to name a few.
Yvenson has really been the heart and sole of the offense over the last
two seasons, Riley said. We have been able to do a lot of things
because of his ability as a runner, receiver and his overlooked blocking. He
is one of the best players I have ever coached.
Bernard, a 2006 Pac-10 First Team selection, enters the year with 2,648 career
rushing yards and 611 career receiving yards. He has visited the end zone 27
When Bernard needs a break the team turns to senior back Clinton Polk. Polk
started one game last season and he made it special as he rushed for 100 yards
in the upset of No. 3 USC, spelling the injured Bernard.
Sophomore Tony Carrasco has also seen action at times and look for incoming
freshmen Ryan McCants from Corona, Calif., and Ahmed Mokhtar of Santa Ana, Calif.,
to possibly make an impact this fall.
Sophomore Micah Strickland and senior Andy Stewart are also talented backs
who see action in the two-back set or H back roles.
The starting quarterback will have the luxury of gunning the ball to three
returning starters at receiver. The group is led by senior postseason honors
candidate Sammie Stroughter.
Stroughter was an Associated Press third team All-American as a multipurpose
player as he doubles as an ultra dangerous punt returner. He led the Pac-10
season with a 92.4 yards per game receiving average and against Washington had
223 yards. As a punt returner he broke the school record with three for touchdowns,
including a memorable 70-yard score in the victory over USC. He also set up
the game-winning touchdown in the Sun Bowl with a nifty return. His 15.7 per
return average was the third-best in the nation as he concluded the year as
one of three finalists for the Randy Moss Return Man of the Year.
Sammie is a terrific story; here is a guy that wasnt highly recruited
who has become one of the most gifted athletes in the Pac-10, Riley said.
He, much like Bernard, gives us options that stretch opposing defenses.
Sammie is an outstanding route-runner, has terrific hands and has great awareness
on the field. He really is the total package as a receiver and special teams
While Stroughter excels at split end, seniors Brandon Powers and Anthony Wheat-Brown
have become stalwarts at slotback and flanker. When you consider the top athletes
in the program, both Powers and Wheat-Brown are at the top of the list. Powers
has developed into a possession receiver who can make the big catches and Wheat-Brown
is a physical player who has demonstrated his ability as a downfield blocker
Those two young men really came into their own last year, Riley
stated. The play of Brandon and Anthony, particularly the last half of
the season or so, enabled us to move the ball around and create seems in the
Look for junior Chris Johnson to continue to push for playing time as he demonstrated
last season why he will be a major contributor in 2007. Junior Shane Morales,
sophomore Casey Kjos and redshirt freshman Kyle Brown also figure to get a lot
of reps in the spring.
The program lost one of its best tight ends ever in Joe Newton, but a youthful
group of talented individuals has Beaver coaches and fans confident that they
will be able to make up for the loss of the imposing Newton.
Four players appear to be in the running for starting duties sophomores
Howard Croom and John Reese both played last season as true freshmen. Redshirt
freshman Gabe Miller came to the program with a lot of promise, but has been
slowed by an Achilles injury, and redshirt freshman Brady Camp figures to be
in the mix.
Joe was certainly a terrific player and we benefited greatly from his
leadership and ability, but I really like what we have in terms of young players
at this position, Riley explained. Im very comfortable with
the players at this position and we are in a great shape for this season and
in the future at tight end.
State was the only team in the conference last season to have all five starters
earn postseason All-Pac-10 honors. The team returns four of those five starters
which is one of the reasons having a first-year starter under center is not
quite the concern that it could be.
We dont win 10 games last season without the play of the line,
Riley said emphatically. We dont go for two points in the Sun Bowl,
and Matt, Sammie and Yvenson dont post the numbers they did.
The anchor of the line is center Kyle DeVan, who returns to start for his third
consecutive year. Junior left guard Jeremy Perry is already considered one of
the best at his position in the conference, evident by his first team All-Pac-10
honor last season and Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year accolade in 2005. Senior
right guard Roy Schuening has started 37 consecutive games and was the lead
blocker in the two-point conversion in the Sun Bowl. Junior right tackle Andy Levitre took over the starting duties early last season after a season-ending
injury to Josh Linehan.
Junior Tavita Thompson is among the candidates to fill the one open position
at left tackle. Also look for sophomore Gregg Peat, redshirt freshman Ryan Pohl
and incoming junior college transfers Michael Cole and Jon Ioane to contribute