This is the follow up to my list of top offensive players for the Beavers from 1998-2008, a period which I think of being the revival of OSU football. This time I’ll be focusing on the defensive side of the ball, which is no easy feat… But here goes nothing:
Defensive end: DeLawrence Grant… One of the anchors of the 2000 defensive unit that carried the Beavers to the Fiesta Bowl, the JUCO transfer was a perfect blend of speed and power. He helped set the tone for the rest of the defense and was terror in the backfield.
Defensive end: Bill Swancutt… OSU’s all-time sacks leader, he won Pac-10 defensive player of the year honors his senior year. His relentless motor and great technique allowed him to get into the backfield at ease, not just to record sacks, but stuff RBs as well.
Defensive tackle: Dwan Edwards… A two-time All-Pac-10 first team selection, he’s one of the best defensive linemen in OSU history, and has enjoyed a long NFL career. A unheralded recruit from Montana, he emerged as an anchor on the line for three years for the Beavers.
Defensive tackle: Eric Manning… Undersized at 6-1, 297 pounds, Manning played with the strength and explosiveness of a much bigger player. He and Edwards were a nightmare for offensive lines, and you can make a case that Manning was the better of the two.
Linebacker: Nick Barnett… He’s a no-brainer. A typical OSU case of safety turned linebacker who developed into one of the best linebackers in the country. He could do everything well: Make reads, drop back in coverage, tackle, etc. No wonder, he enjoyed a strong NFL career.
Linebacker: Trent Bray… He wasn’t explosive or flashy, but he got the job done better than anyone when it came to wrapping up and tackling offensive players. He used his knowledge of the game and excellent fundamentals to make up for athleticism — and make BIG plays.
Linebacker: Keith Ellison… A JUCO transfer, Ellison was steady as they come. In many regards, he was a lot like Barnett, did a little of everything. He had a great knack for the being in the right spot at the right time. He also was very strong dropping back in coverage.
Cornerback: Dennis Weathersby… Perhaps my fav OSU defender since I became a fan, he made it look so easy and effortless out there, hence his nickname “Lazy D.” He is arguably the best CB in OSU history, and had he not been injured in a car accident, he would’ve done well in the NFL.
Cornerback: Keenan Lewis… He blossomed into quite an all-around corner and the closest the Beavers had to a lockdown corner since Weathersby. Not surprisingly, he’s considered one of the better corners in the NFL today.
Safety: Mitch Meeuwsen… Has there been a more fun safety to watch in OSU history? He was an outstanding playmaker who created a lot of turnovers for the Beavers, and at the most opportune times. Turns out, he also had very underrated athleticism.
Safety: Terrance Carroll… Another stalwart of that 2000 defense, he played with a ton of physicality and aggression; it was like having a fourth linebacker out there… and did I mention he hit like a ton of bricks. Too bad he got run down by Carson Palmer that one time 🙂
Kicker: Alexis Serna… This one doesn’t need much explaining. He’s a great story of tragedy to triumph… having won a Groza, been perfect against the Huskies, and hit clutch field goals — after missing three extra points in his first college start. It’s all about finishing strong, right?
Punter: Sam Paulescu… He easily could be the best punter in OSU history, as he’s the only one to earn All-Pac-10 first team honors. He excelled at directional punting, and in his two season at OSU downed ball inside the 20-yard line a whopping 48 times.
What do you think? Who would be on your all defensive team (1998-2008) that didn’t make the cut on my team. )For the record, it was really hard to leave off Aric Williams, Richard Seigler, Joey Larocque, LaDarious Jackson… and even worse, I probably spaced out on some obvious players…)
Go Beavs! (RW)