In the second installment of my recruiting review, I tackle the defense. When the Beavers took the field against the ducks for the Civil War at Autzen Stadium the past November, they had a defense riddled with injuries, walk-ons and players that were not even on the two deep at the start of the season. Injuries, attrition and fit had taken its toll on the defense, and in a game where a single stop could have been the difference between a win and a loss, the Beavers just didn’t have anything left in the tank. Recruiting for our defense was a huge area of need going into 2016, and this staff delivered in a big way.
With last year’s recruiting class bringing 10 defenders in it, the 2016 class needed to be a little unbalanced in favor of the defensive side of the ball. That was definitely accomplished with 17 players in the class being on the defensive side (we have since learned that Kee Whetzel will be starting out on defense. Thanks Rivals!). In a class of 25 players that is a pretty hefty load on a single side of the ball, but it was needed. Below, I outline the positions and how I felt we did in recruiting on the defensive side of the ball this last year.
When was the last time OSU got 2 defensive tackles in a single class? 2013 we had 3 JC DT’s sign, Delva, Hautau and Peko. Before that the class of 2008 was the last time we had two Defensive Tackle recruits make it to campus. Fangupo is a big talent (literally at 6’2″ and 320lbs) who is going to be a much needed run stopper up the middle for the Beavers. Savea is another huge body from Snow CC that has produced a lot of talent for the Beavers. I am not going to say that Savea will be a Stephen Paea, but he has the size, strength and motor to be a great player for the Beavers.
Candy Report Grade: A
“Defensive tackles are pure gold in college football. Everyone covets them and they are, in my opinion, the hardest position to recruit. While I would give this group an A++ if there was a High School prospect (for longevities sake) honestly, Defensive tackle as such a huge need for us and to get two solid JC prospects fills a great need on this team.”
Anyone that watched OSU last year knew that our pass rush needed help. While the incumbents are working their tails off with Coach Simon to get better, there is no doubt that this was a huge area of need for the Beavers. In my mind, in any given class, you can assume 50% of the people you get at any position will pan out and be starters. 75% will contribute in some way and so on. So while I don’t think we will see us take 6 defensive ends in every class, the odds are that at least 3 will be impact players for the Beavers. You factor in a player like Phillip Napoleon, who is big enough to slide in and play tackle, a la Michael Bennett for the Seahawks, and you have a pretty great base.
I think that Isaac Garcia is a legit prospect in the vein of Scott Crichton, and Rashed, Turnier and Taumoelau are all big, fast speed ends like Orchard was for Utah. Joah Robinett is also an interesting prospect just from the standpoint of his size. At 6’8″ he will be a long frame on the edge that can be a match up nightmare on passing downs. I can also see him contributing to the field goal defense team.
Candy Report Grade: B
“Again, this class filled the needs there but honestly, outside of Napoleon, I am not sure they have anyone that I think is an instant impact player. They are going to be asked to be and I think they will be up for the challenge. This is a very good class in a very important position for the Beavers, I just don’t think we will know how good it is for a few years.”
Another big area of need, linebacker was one of the groups that was decimated last year. With the new commitment to the 3-4 and the coaches desire to change the .size, speed and shape of the linebacking crew, this was going to be another area of need. The transfer of Rommel Mageo makes this four person class even more imperative. One of the bright spots of this class may end up being the one that seemed undersized on paper. Shemar Smith has arrived at spring camp at 230 pounds and physically ready to make an immediate impact. In fact, this group has a lot of players that will probably be asked to step up sooner rather than later. I like the size and speed of Hughes-Murray and Whitson while the JC transfer Payne is a strong, hard hitting missle from Pima CC in Arizona.
Candy Report Grade: B
“This class doesn’t have a ton of star appeal, but players like Hughes-Murray and Smith have Pac-12 frames with Pac-12 speed and chips on their shoulders. As a group, I expect them to offer depth at least and potentially some real stars on the field. I think this team squad will end up being a good one for us, but I am going to take a wait and see on their production. The B may not seem really high, but for a class that averages less than 5.6 Rivals Ranking, I think I am showing they have far more to offer than Rivals does.”
This part of the class is a home run. Two 4* studs in Thompson and Wallace will provide instant help and athleticism to the corner and safety spots while Payne and Robinson are talented players that can cover and tackle well. Kee Whetzel, who I talked about in the offensive report is actually slated to play defense (according to sources at BeaverBlitz.com) and will be another large, fast and athletic option. In a conference that can really throw the ball well, being able to rotate often in the backfield is paramount. These five players give OSU that depth not just in numbers but in quality. I would put our secondary class in the top third of the conference for talent.
Candy Report Grade: A+
“Not sure what else they could have done to make this class better. I cannot remember the last time that one group got two 4* players at Oregon State.”
I mentioned last week that this defensive class could be the most important in the last decade for the Beavers. I honestly believe it is. Right now, to accomplish what Gary Andersen and his staff want to accomplish, Oregon State needs to have a top fourth of the conference defense. They need to be able to really manage the game and play solid defense in all phases, against a wide variety of offenses. They need to also play defense with their offense, but that is a topic for another day. To me, this defensive class fills the major needs they had. We will not know how well for a few years, but for now, the foundation is there and in many cases the numbers are.
If you assume that 50% of any position group will succeed and be starters, defensive end, secondary and linebacker all got great boosts where they needed them. If we want to elevate the size and speed of our defense, out of the box this class accomplishes that. In terms of players that fit the vision of Gary Andersen, I think this class does a great job of reflecting the head guy. Ultimately, this was a great first step for Gary and his staff fulfill their vision of what OSU will look like under them.
For fit, I give this class a A. For completeness and filling the needs they have for the future, I give it an A+. So my overall offensive grade for this class would be a A, While we should not always take 17 defensive players in a class, if the quality of player we are getting matches this next year, we will not have to wait long to have a stout and feared defense in the conference.
Go Beavs (PRO)!