As you all know too well, I am very attached to the ‘Big Uglies’ that patrol ythe offensive side of what is lovingly referred to as the trenches. I spend a lot of time looking at recruiting film, game film and reading stories about linemen and their evolution through the years. So for me, living through the recruiting of 2010 – 2011, it made me afraid. Very afraid.
And I see it again now.
Of course I should post a disclaimer that I am kind of chicken little when it comes to this stuff and that it is only late June. So take this worth a grain of salt, but I am concerned. And here is why:
In 2010, we took exactly one lineman. His name was Roman Sapolu and he was a great player and probably better person for the Beavers. His signing was after the Beavers signed 5 offensive linemen in 2009. In 2011, the Beavers got 3 offensive linemen, one was even a 4* flip from UCLA. Unfortunately, both he and Justin Addie dealt with a series of injuries that cost them their careers at Oregon State. In addition, Akeem Gonzalez moved to the defensive side of team, leaving just one lineman for a two year stretch that ever produced for Oregon State.
This meant that in 2013, when three linemen went down in the first few weeks, redshirt freshmen Grant Bays, Josh Mitchell and Gavin Andrews were asked to step up. While those guys ended up being amazing for us, there were struggles early and the offense, though prolific through the air, could never get it going on the ground. Now imagine if in 2013, OSU was going into that season without Cooks, Mannion or Mullaney. That would have been a train wreck.
So where are we? In 2015 we got three high school linemen, Blake Brandel, Miki Fafita and Zach Lucas. Lucas has since retired, so there are only two remaining players from that class. Last year, the only high school offensive line man we got was Gus Lavaka. I love Gus, but that is three players in two classes that will be able to play in 2018 when most everyone else will be gone. Those three players will be in the 2 deep no mater what.
So this year we have Fabian Kratz, who has a ton of upside, and then currently no one. For me, it isn’t just about the recruiting game or stars or anything like that. It is the reality that in 2018, the Beavers will most likely have redshirt freshmen in their two deep. This class may be asked to start after just one year of practice. If that is the case, we need the best possible players we can get. We need guys that can make an instant impact and push for playing time from day one. Kratz may be that guy, I don’t know. And whoever we get will get a year to get better. But if we don’t get at least 4 quality linemen, and I would feel better with 5, then we are looking at a 2018 with a new QB, new receivers, and 3 new starters on the offensive line (potentially) and that is scary.
At least for me.
On the bright side, that also means that anyone that comes to OSU this year will get a shot to start before they can legally vote. And playing time is a huge seller for talent.
What do you think? Am I crazy?
Go Beavs (PRO)