These five WILL step up!
It’s been just 7 months since the end of the Oregon St. Beavers football team’s horrific 3-9 2011 season, and while the team may have put those demons to rest, the poor reputation that resulted will not cease to exist. That is, unless Oregon State can prove many (and there are many) of its critics wrong by putting together a strong 2012 campaign.
Righting the ship, however, is no easy task, and seeing as though this is the first Beaver football team since 2006 to be Rodgers brother-less, the road to success could be bumpy.
But hey, let’s not forget that 2006 team knocked off #2 USC in a thrilling 33-31 home game, so all hope shouldn’t completely be lost, right?
We saw the impact Jacquizz’s absence had on the running back position last year, and while James Rodgers wasn’t the same old James Rodgers last year, his veteran leadership will be missed within this year’s receiving corps.
So with OSU finally stepping out from the Rodgers brothers’ shadow, it’s time to look at a few players who will play pivotal roles on this year’s squad.
1. Jordan Poyer – CB/Kick Returner
Is there a more electric player on the OSU roster this year, other than Jordan Poyer? Not a chance.
The senior cornerback, from Astoria, Oregon, is coming off an outstanding year for the Beavers. Registering a team high 4 interceptions (one returned for a TD), Poyer is also the team’s primary kick and punt returner.
In 2010, Poyer averaged 92.4 yards a game, and finished the season with 1,109 all purpose yards, good for second on the team.
And he plays defense.
His athleticism, and ball hawking skills, will allow him to shine on both defense and special teams. There’s no doubt he’s one of the top impact performers for the Beavers’ defense, and should prove to be one of the deadliest kick returners in not just the conference, but also in the country.
2. Sean Mannion – QB
Otherwise known as the guy who stole Ryan Katz’ job.
To be fair, Mannion certainly did his part to establish himself as the Beaver’s primary starter last year, but that’s not to say the divorce of Ryan Katz, and the Beavers, was amicable.
While Katz squandered his opportunity by coming up short against Sacramento State(!) in last year’s opener, the surprise move to Mannion shocked many a fan of the orange and black.
The shock remained throughout the season, but was experienced in a different way.
Along with Sean Mannion showing his worth to Beaver Nation, and proving that he was a competent starting quarterback, he put together a season no other freshman quarterback had ever produced in Corvallis.
Throwing for 3,328 yards on the year, Mannion set the single season passing mark by a freshman, and it also ranked as the third highest passing total in OSU history.
(Derek Anderson holds spots 1 and 2)
So, not only will Mannion have a huge impact for the Beavers’ offense, but his legacy is one that may re-write the Oregon State history books.
Ryan Katz, who?
3. Malcom Agnew…or Terron Ward…or Jovan Stevenson
…or forget it, the OSU half-back rotisserie.
The biggest question mark heading in to the 2011 campaign was who would fill the giant void left by Jacquizz Rodgers. That question remained unanswered for all of last season as the Oregon State football team employed a running back by committee strategy. A strategy that didn’t really pay off.
Malcom Agnew saw a majority of the carries last year, carrying the ball 89 times for 423 yards, good for a 4.8 yard per carry average. Agnew added 5 touchdowns, but was hampered by a nagging hamstring injury most of the year.
Included in the committee were running backs Terron Ward, Jovan Stevenson and Jordan Jenkins, all of whom could factor in to the mix yet again this year.
Jenkins, however, did have an early end to his spring practice, after tearing a muscle in his shoulder, and injury that hopefully won’t plague him during the 2012 season.
In addition to the above mentioned running backs, Storm Woods (coming off of a redshirt year, and quite possibly the best name in football), could also find himself commanding carries in late game, or spell, situations.
While the jury might be out on who is the bonafide #1 running back for Oregon State this year, one this is certain, depth is not a question.
4. Scott Crichton – DE
You want to see a defensive player with an outstanding motor, then watch Scott Crichton. A welcome surprise on last year’s sub-par defensive line, Crichton looks to have an even better sophomore season.
Crichton tallied 74 total tackles, 6 sacks, and an incredible 6 forced fumbles, all as a redshirt freshman.
Anchoring a D-line with fellow sophomore Dylan Wynn and senior Andrew Seumalo, Crichton figures to get a little more attention this year form opposing offensive lines.
How he responds to that extra attention will allow Beaver Nation to see his true potential.
Based off the sample size from last season, I think it might be safe to say that Crichton won’t disappoint; be excited to watch him terrorize PAC-12 backfields for years to come.
5. Colby Prince – TE
For years it was the Joe Halahuni show in Corvallis, and for good reason too. However, last year we began to see the arrival of the Tank’s heir apparent.
Recording just 12 receptions a year ago, Prince filled in nicely as the backup tight end, but displayed the tools necessary to carry the weight of the starting tight end.
With Prince, and up and coming receiver Obum Gwacham (also 6’5″), the Beavers should have an effective red zone offense, an area the Beavers were lacking in a year ago.
Well there it is, five impact players to keep an eye on this year for the Oregon State football team. Each seemingly primed to have an outstanding 2012 season for a team, and fan base, so desperate for a winning season.
Question is, is this the year that the Beavers can put it all together?
The odds may be against them, but hey, that’s why they play the games, right?