As we dive into spring ball, there is already a loud hum around the OSU Beaver program. As I see it, this is an exciting time because of all the newness being spread around like money being passed to recruits by Phil Knight handshakes. Since I am an ego maniac, I will start with me and my renewed interest. I never really waned in my fan status, but the last two years were hard for me like everyone because I had lost hope in the program. What seemed like a program that was close to turning it around as recently as 2012, instead they took two or ten giant steps back. So I look forward to this season as if it was a fat sack of new “Fat Burning” candy ready for me to consume and get those “300 abs” I have heard so much about.
In addition, there is ‘new’ everywhere in Beaver Football. New coaches, new practice uniforms, new offense, new defense and a bunch of new names replacing familiar former Beaver starters. After a week of Spring Ball, below is a list of areas that we will see new faces, cleverly hidden by helmets and face masks and how they are performing:
I would look like a moron if I didn’t start here. Four year starter and future NFL draft pick Sean Mannion has left for the NFL after exhausting his eligibility as a Beaver. In comes…. who knows? Currently there are seven players vying for what will eventually be a group of three. That group of three will be chosen today, and will give OSU a good look at the types of skills the Beavers want to showcase. For my money, below are the three QB’s that I think we need to watch for:
- Jake DelRio: Very polished passer with a plus arm and decent speed. Has been around the block more than others and played in a few games last year. Is not fast, but is a scrappy runner who is smart with how he picks up yards and extends plays.
- Nick Mitchell: Natural athlete with a good arm and solid scrambling ability. Is probably the most physically equipped to perform the running and passing plays required for this offense.
- Seth Collins: The yang to Luke’s Yin with great ability to run and a scrappy throwing ability that could torch teams that are too worried about his feet.
This is an area that to the outside world would be an area of concern. Fortunately for OSU, there is a lot of playing time returning from a group that graduated three starters. With the retention of a 4-3 formation, OSU will rely on some familiar names to patrol the field.
- Rommel Mageo: A very tough and very savvy defender, Rommel really shined as a freshman in 2013 coming in for a thin and injured linebacker group. A true middle linebacker, Rommel is fast enough to play sideline to sideline but is also big and tough enough to take on blockers and stuff the inside. Rommel has started before and played in most games in some capacity since 2013 so he is someone that will provide experience to this group.
- Caleb Sasolu: Another fast and aggressive player, Caleb was called on a lot the last two years and should be more than ready to go for the Beavers this fall.
- Darrell Songy: Boisterous and freakishly athletic, Darrell was missed last year as he sat out for violating team rules. Not just a great player, Songy is also the kind of player that pumps up those around him and can generate momentum, not just ride it. He will be a key piece in the personality of the defense.
Last year was not the year we all envisioned. With the loss of some four year starters for the Beavers, OSU is going to have to rely heavily on some players that saw time last year in nickel and dime packages, as well as spot base duty. Historically, new secondary coach Derrick Odum has had ball hawking defenses that rank nationally in interceptions. This secondary is going to resemble the 2012 secondary in the way they play the ball and position themselves to make big, game changing plays.
- Justin Strong: Honestly, the biggest surprise last year for me. A great player who is vicious, tenacious and never gives up. He will thrive under this new defense and will hopefully be the biggest. I expect even more from him this year, as he will have an opportunity to play every down.
- Cyril Noland-Lewis: Cyril came on strong last year and really has the potential to be a player much like the safeties we have had in the past. I seem him being a lot like Anthony Watkins, playing big on the run, being able to make plays in the backfield but also being able to cover well. I really feel like the combo of Noland-Lewis and Strong will be tough to beat.
- Brandon Arnold: This exciting prospect brings a lot of swagger and athleticism to the defense. Much like Songy, I think Arnold will bring a lot of ability and excitement to the defense. If they hold true to having a hybrid linebacker/safety position, I can see Arnold fitting in well in this. While I did say secondary on the title of this section, not just safeties, I think that the safeties are going to be the strength of the secondary. Arnold definitely plays into that thinking
Finally, I think this spring we are already seeing the great work by coach Evan Simon. The physical changes to these players is immense and the up tempo practice style is going to make even more changes. I look for the team overall to lose weight this spring just practicing at such a high tempo. In many cases, we are seeing bodies this spring that are in the thinning out phase of their transformations. Players like Josh MItchell being in the 290’s while they look to get rid of bad weight and then add muscle. You can already see a difference on the field, but the real changes and magic if you will, will be when they finish the next phase of adding weight to their thinned out and lean bodies. Coach Simon is an amazing strength coach and come Summer camp we will be amazed at the differences from these few spring practices.
It is an exciting time to follow OSU, and as the Gary Andersen era begins, the reviews are coming in and they are amazing!