Despite 2011 Struggles, Beaver’s Still Standout
Last season was not kind to the OSU Beavers. In fact, it kind of sucked.
Despite the harshness of those words, there’s still hope for the future. That hope begins with the players, many of who had standout seasons drowned out by a putrid 3-9 record.
At the end of the day, their will always be Beavers to watch. Their will always be stud players who play exciting football. Why else would OSU have 28 players currently in the NFL?
Here are five of my favorite Beavers currently playing for OSU.
One of the most standout OSU defensive players over four years, cornerback Jordan Poyer enters 2012 looking for his last hurrah.
Though he may not be a leader off the field, Poyer is certainly a defensive leader on the field. He’s always leading the charge from the back field, making his tackles and changing the game. He doubles as the Beaver’s primary return man, which were big shoes to fill after Sammie Stroughter’s departure.
Playing in 13 games as a true freshman in 2009, Poyer was a stud from day one. Over the last two seasons, he’s averaged 46 tackles—29 solo—per season. Last season he had four interceptions, accumulating 56 yards and one touchdown. On special teams, he’s averaged 25.9 yards per return.
Poyer has legitimate NFL prospects, and until that day comes he’ll remain one of the best Beaver’s.
A true freshman in 2011, Cooks played in all 12 of OSU’s games. Through the season he total 391 yards on 13 receptions, scoring 3 touchdowns. He also doubled on the season as a kick returner, averaging 22.4 yards per return.
Coming into his sophomore year, Cooks only has room for improvement. He enters the season more in tune with the offense and quarterback Sean Mannion. With a good showing, he could very easily supplant Markus Wheaton as the No. 1 option at wide out.
Cooks is a monster with really high upside. He’s got great instincts, dazzling moves and a blazing afterburner. As long as he comes into 2012 bulked up, there’s no doubt in my mind he could be the best wide receiver at OSU, if not the Pac-12.
3,332 yards, 64.5% completion rate, 16 touchdowns. Hard to believe that stat line comes from a true freshman quarterback.
That’s exactly what Sean Mannion was in 2011, and he was absolutely fantastic. Beaver Nation entered last season ecstatic about Ryan Katz; so much so, that no one knew Mannion’s name. When Katz faltered, Mannion took to the call of duty and saved the season.
True, Mannion had his ups and downs. He threw 18 interceptions, two more than his number of touchdowns. He also fumbled the ball nine times, four of which were loss—though that’s more a product of the offensive line.
Despite his lows, they don’t outweigh the highs. Over 3,000 yards per season is a big deal, but even more so for a freshman who didn’t start until the third game of the season.
Ryan Katz may have been a letdown, but Mannion won’t be. He’s got a big accurate arm, and can only get better in 2012. Any Beaver fan should be excited to watch this kid play for three more seasons.
Another standout freshman in 2011—this time red shirt—it’s hard to be more excited about any defensive player than Scott Crichton.
OSU has suffered on line play, and while the O-line gets more attention for their struggles, the D-line isn’t perfect. Scott Crichton entered 2011 with the Beavers needing him to fill a void at DE, and boy did he ever.
Crichton compiled 74 tackles over the season, 48 solo. He also compiled 6 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.
No current Beaver is better at pressuring the quarterback than Crichton. He’s strong, he’s quick and he always puts the heat on the opposing players. He’s a stud, and a great player for Mike Riley to build around on defense.
Despite 2011 standout campaigns from several players, no one was more consistent, more dangerous and more exciting to watch than Markus Wheaton.
Wheaton enjoyed the best season of his collegiate career last year, compiling 986 yards on 73 catches. He averaged 82.2 yards a game and 13.5 per reception. He was also a beast on reversals, rushing for 190 yards on 25 carries—including a long of 56 yards.
Wheaton was the best Beaver in 2011, and chances are that remains the trend in 2012. He’s fast, he’s strong, he has a phenomenal vertical and no matter where the ball is he finds a way to get his hands on it. His deception on reverse plays make it one of the most dangerous plays in Riley’s handbook.
Personally, I love watching Wheaton play. He’s so exciting. Every time Mannion drops back, you know he’s looking for Wheaton—who’s most likely already 20-30 yards down field.
No matter how many men are covering him, he’ll find a way to catch his passes.
If any player is the best Beaver, it’s Markus Wheaton.