For those that follow this little blog of mine, you will notice that I kind of like the offensive line. As a former lineman myself, I have an affinity for the big uglies up front. It is not just that I want to make sure that the most important group on the entire field gets their due (Sorry, everyone else, but they are.), but I also want to make sure that people realize the extent of protection and blocking. It is usually 6 to 8 players working in unison, directing traffic and opening lanes, or protecting pockets while constantly looking for breaches into their assignment.
Which is why it is important to realize that win or lose, OSU was blessed to have one of the best offensive linemen in our history the past four years: Isaac Seumalo. To truly understand what Isaac meant to this team, you have to go back to the beginning.
The very best offensive line class of my life that signed with the Beavers was the 2012 class. While injuries and grades diminished the numbers and the on field production of this class, the reality is that the 2012 class had five legitimate NFL bodies. Garrett Weinreich, Grant Bays, Gavin Andrews, Stanly Hasiak, and of course, Isaac Seumalo were all players from day one who were on the fast track to the NFL. The unfortunate retirements of Weinreich and Bays, the injury-filled career of Andrews, and the academic casualty of Hasiak diminished what was the second best OL class in the country. While players in that class such as Josh Mitchell transformed themselves into NFL prospects, Isaac Seumalo was the crown jewel. Isaac was also one of our first commitments that year, and ushered in the beginnings of a great class by peer recruiting for months. I honestly believe that Isaac was the momentum starter for getting all of those guys, and without him, a few probably would have went elsewhere.
With this winter to train prior to the combine, Isaac should be able to fully regain his pre-injury form. While he is a first-round player, his injury history may cause him to slide in the NFL draft, but make no mistake, Isaac will be a longtime NFL player if he remains healthy. For those who watched him prior to his injury, Isaac moved so quickly in space, and ran with such a purpose on pulls, that often he was able to secure multiple blocks on a play. His strength and athleticism were off the charts. And even post-injury, he was able to handle speed rushes, bull rushes, and blocking in space with relative ease. This season, even while shaking the rust off from missing a year, Isaac was the second highest grader in the Peter Osborne system after Josh Mitchell. If you think about it, try taking a year off from your job because of injury and then coming back to perform at a high level… it is pretty dang impressive.
Isaac also stayed true to OSU during a traumatic time when his father was on the outside looking in after a coaching change. Isaac, whose family bleeds orange and black, stayed when he had every opportunity to leave. Like Richard Mullaney, Isaac could have probably landed anywhere, and maybe still be playing right now, as a 2-to play-2 player, depending on how close he was to graduating. Instead, he stayed at OSU even though he was being asked to be a leader on a team that was destined for a rough season.
The biggest crime this year is that Isaac (and the other seniors) were not able to go out as winners. That their first year was going to be their best. While many lament the talent of the 2015 Beavers, the talent of one Isaac Seumalo, big No. 56, was the exception. As he waits to see where he gets picked, I will wait to see who one of my new favorite NFL teams becomes. Whatever team he goes to will feel very lucky to have landed who will end up being the star of their own draft class. (Selfishly, I want it to be Seattle because I go to Seahawks games pretty regularly).
So thank you Isaac, and the Seumalo family. There are very few families that have been better to OSU athletics during my following of the program. While there were some bumps in the road, I cannot thank your family enough for sharing their talents with us. Especially a talent as amazing as Isaac’s.
Go Beavs, and go whatever NFL team takes Isaac! (PRO)