While there has been discussion of angst and anger around the fan base of the Oregon State Beaver football team, there is one thing that will not change. Tonight will be the last night as a Beaver Football player for many, many warriors in Orange and Black.
The 2010 and many of the 2011 class will play their last game at Reser and I want to say one thing to them:
For some, you were the only member of your position group to sign, and after two years, you found more and more of your peers from your class and the next dropping away and leaving you as the only leader to carry the torch.
Or some players that had to delay enrollment to get here, had to work hard when everyone else had forgotten about them either because of some young mistakes in schooling or because no one else thought you were big or fast enough to be a division one linebacker or running back.
One of you came here with your best friend, only to experience tragedy and be left with memories and the knowledge of that one hug you really want after your last game together won’t be possible.
There is the receiver who came and switched sides so that he cold see the field faster as safety. The record setting Quarterback that came back to try one more time for a championship with his best friends. The defensive end that one idiot writer (myself) was worried was too slow or too small or too fit coming in to really grow as a player, only to start as a true freshman and be the most consistent defensive lineman on the team over four years.
We will be saying goodbye to a giant Tight End who was an afterthought to his class for many recruitniks, yet worked his way into being one of the best tight ends we have seen at OSU. A walk on from a storied high school program that always seemed to get the tough yards when needed. It will be the last game for a linebacker who worked hard in the background, honed his craft and was there when they needed him after the starters went down, at least until he became a starter himself.
Tomorrow there will be some JC transfers that will part ways with the Beavers. Huge defensive linemen that gave everything they had, whether it was transforming their body to be quicker and stronger, or continuing to go out and help their team when every joint in their body is screaming at them to quit. Or a JC corner that came to Corvallis with a vision to get to the NFL and did everything he could to make that a reality. There will be a high jumping receiver who took a chance their senior year and moved to defense only to become one of the more dependable ends on the team.
A highlight reel tackler for kicker, a punter who admirably filled some Pro Bowl shoes, a defensive end who found their chance to shine returning kicks, a deep snapper who no one ever thought of because he always made the snaps, A transfer from Cal who gave OSU more than they expected and an offensive lineman who walked on and did everything he could to make the team better, even without the fanfare of playing every Saturday.
These players that play tomorrow have done nothing but work, struggle and grind to try and make the Beavers the best possible team they can be. While this year was not what they had hopped, it doesn’t take away from what they have done. These players are kids of 21 or 22 years old who have had to carry the wishes and expectations of Beaver Nation on their shoulders, no matter how difficult or unrealistic of a burden it may be.
To you who play for the Beavers, I say thank you. Your passion and sacrifice is important to me and means a lot from someone who cannot suit up, cannot make a difference on the field and who, thankfully, no one wants to see play. All I can do is cheer and write this blog, and both of those are nothing without players like you.
Win or lose, I will always give you a “Go Beavers” if I ever see you, because you have more than earned it.