One of the reasons I hang out so much at BeaverBlitz is the recruiting information. It is easy to browse their databases to find out facts about classes past, present, and future.
In looking at recruiting, sometimes it is simple to just say, “Oregon State struggled at running the ball so they must need a lot of help on the line and in the backfield.” Or you might think “OSU had a hard time stopping the run and mobile QBs so they must need help on the defensive line and at linebacker.”
For those of you who make those statements, you are largely correct. Oregon State does need to recruit offensive linemen, running backs, defensive linemen, and linebackers. Every year, you want to work your best to replace your entire team and then fill in more where you are thin. That is ideal. Unfortunately, some years, because of limited numbers of quality talent at those positions or just a lot of swings and misses by the recruiting staff, you have a lack of parity within your class.
This lack of parity gives leaves you with situation like OSU has currently. They have three offensive linemen committed in this class. All of which are most likely center or guard recruits. So there is a need at offensive tackle just to make this class more complete. For Oregon State, there is a greater need for line help than just filling an annual quota. Of the offensive linemen they landed in 2010 and 2011, only two remain on the roster. And Roman Sapolu may or may not get another hardship year, but he and Justin Addie are the only two scholarship linemen from those classes who are still on the team.
Everyone else is from 2012 and later. So while you are losing three starters from the 2009 class this year, the next oldest starters are from the class of 2012. Gavin Andrews and Isaac Seumalo are both going to be true juniors in 2014, with everyone else most likely being from the 2012 and 2013 classes. The loss of David Keller, who retired due to concussion issues, means that in 2016, OSU will most likely lose the majority of their starters from that impressive 2012 class.
Many people believe that OSU needs to build this depth for next year, but the reality is that many of the freshmen they get, even great ones that they are pursuing now, such as Kaleb McGary and Kolton Miller, are going to have a hard time beating out Andrews, Sean Harlow and Gerrett Weinreich (if he stays healthy). Not to mention a talented player like Nolan Hansen that is not going to easily be supplanted behind those starters. So for one of these kids to come in and start over Harlow or Andrews would be amazing for the Beavers because that would mean they just signed all-conference caliber talent out of high school.
Amazing? Yes. Likely? No.
The importance for Oregon State, right now, is to meter current needs with future ones. Currently Coach Cav is wooing a JC offensive tackle named Bobby Keenan. He would be a great addition, but is also a short-term addition because he won’t have the full four or five years with the Beavers. So while he would address immediate tackle needs for next seasons, two years from now when the need is greatest, he might not be available anymore.
As with anything related to recruiting, depth should not be viewed on a whole as a quick fix or immediate boost. It can be sometimes, in special cases such as Quizz Rodgers or Stephen Paea. But for the most part, you are building for two and three years down the road. If people want to know why I am hopeful for the future of Oregon State football, I will point to the changes they made three years ago in bringing in coach Brennan and coach Brasfield. Or the growth that coach Gunderson has made in terms of recruiting. Or the addition of coach Perry and coach Bray, while reassigning coach Locey to a position where he can impact the future of OSU football by maintaining relations with its past. Those changes brought about three straight top-40 classes with two in the top 30s. OSU is continuing down that path this year, and as the effects of poor recruiting classes of the past start to fade away, the real strength of those changes are starting to be seen.
There is no mystery to why players such as Josh Mitchell and Grant Bays can come in, and OSU doesn’t miss a beat. Those guys are great athletes who OSU recruited to be improvements over the athletes it already had.
As a result, we shouldn’t be shocked if a sophomore named Sean Harlow makes waves on the all-conference team next year. He is an amazing player and talent-wise is an improvement over what we have seen since the days of Roy Schuening and Andy Levitre.
And we shouldn’t be shocked if the Beavers manage to land Miller and McGary, and those guys start later, when they are redshirt sophomores or redshirt juniors. The better OSU recruits, the harder it is even for blue chip guys, to break into the lineup early. That is what championship teams build their rosters. The occasional mind-blowing player will come in and take over, but for the most part, teams like Stanford are always adding depth, and those players have to wait because what is in front of them is high-quality talent.