THE OREGON STATE offensive attack should get a major boost from last year with the return of Sammie Stroughter. But the key might just be found further inside. “We didn’t throw the ball last year like we did in the past -- If it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back to the tight end, too," says Mike Riley.
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THE TIGHT ENDS:
Howard Croom (Jr., 6-3, 254), Brady Camp (So., 6-4, 258) | H-back: Gabe Miller (So., 6-3, 231), John Reese (Jr., 6-3, 240), Joe Halahuni (RFr., 6-2, 254)
Colby Prince (Fr., 6-2, 260), *Colby Prince (Fr., 6-3, 250) *enrolled in January after grayshirting.
Walk-ons arriving in September when rosters expand::
Expected to redshirt:
Pankey and Prince.
What changed in the summer: Miller appears to have healed up from the dislocated finger he suffered towards the end of the spring session. Halahuni healed from knee surgery in the summer but will take it slow, he is not expected to be 100-percent when fall camp gets underway on Friday. BeaverGreat Tim Euhus joined the staff as a graduate assistant and really sunk his teeth into the role -- the tight ends looked much improved in their blocking schemes this spring.
Storylines for fall camp: The Oregon State staff have done a fantastic job of building up a once depleted position. After spending last year learning the ropes Croom, Miller, Camp and Reese could all be set for big years -- be they at tight end or when Oregon State goes to the h-back. With Canfield and Moevao now each having a better understanding of the offense, look for throws to the tight ends to increase significantly.
Croom is the most experienced of the group and arguably the best all-around player. Miller looks to have the best big play potential if he can stay healthy.
Camp is one of the better blockers and has been improving his catch-skills, while Reese is an athletic player who should also see the field. Will the tight ends be able to spread their wings if a banged up offensive line becomes the norm as it was during spring ball? Their success this season could well depend on the ability of the o-line to give the quarterback time.
One to watch: Impossible to limit this to only one. Howard Croom and Gabe Miller. It is not an exaggeration to say this potent one-two combination could combine for one of the most productive years in Oregon State's tight end history. Given recent black and orange history from guys like Euhus and Joe Newton, that's saying something.
Unit's strength: Experience, versatility, speed, depth and knowledge of the offense.
Unit's weakness: Nothing, though if you try hard you could nitpick in the area of height with none of the tight ends standing over 6-foot-4. Still, given their collective skills, that doesn't appear as if it will factor in a whole lot.