Oregon State Signing Day Observations

Today was National Letter of Intent day for football, and Oregon State had some successes and some disappointments, which was about as expected.

Most of the expected/hoped for signees had their electronic signatures on file early in the day, which made the day a bit anti-climatic, compared to some recent years, when there were occasionally an out-of-the-blue late addition. That indicated Coach Gary Andersen had the class pretty buttoned up in advance, with adjustments in place for the 9 de-commits Oregon State had.

That 5 of the commits are already in school helps too.

“We got in a whole bunch of big-boy fights for recruits,” Andersen said. “We didn’t win them all, but we won our fair share, which was great to see.”

The lack of surprises also lent itself to the highly orchestrated series of short av clips released over the course of the day that represents how signing day was handled. Gone are the days of allowing investors and interested parties into the festivities, lest someone ask an inconvenient question. Even press participation was by invitation, not application, not that there’s a big push, what with more notable signing day lists forming up and down the freeway from here.

Andersen wanted a class that covers the areas of need, but the results in that regard are mixed.

The 3 strongest areas were the ones Andersen had identified as the 3 major objectives for this recruiting class.

One of the biggest areas of need is on the offensive line, where 3 starters graduated, and Oregon State signed 6 to the position group, including a pair of JC transfers, including 6’6″ 330 lb. Clay Cordasco and 6’7″ 310 lb. Justin Sattelmaier, both of whom will be looked to to contribute immediately.

Andersen also wanted to add length and depth to the secondary, and accomplished both. With only 4 corners available as the Beavers get ready for winter practices, which begin this weekend, its an area where reinforcements were needed.

Oregon State also got some apparent quality help at receiver, another area of need with Victor Bolden having graduated, and Paul Lucas transferring to Arizona State. Both Isaiah Hodgins, one of the Beavers’ 2 4 star recruits, and Kolby Taylor, had offers from long lists of name programs across the country, and represent real successes for Beaver recruiting.

Of course they will need someone to get them the ball, and the quarterbacks on hand have generally failed at that task the last 2 years, Marcus McMaryion’s late season progress not withstanding.

Andersen added a pair of quarterbacks, and while Aidan Willard is likely a longer term project, and likely to red-shirt, JC transfer Jake Luton was clearly brought in to provide immediate help. Luton, who washed out at Idaho, and generated little interest during his detour to Ventura CC, has the measurables, but isn’t the apparent immediate upgrade that Davis Webb at California last season, for example, was.

McMaryion will get the first snaps in spring practice, but Andersen will try to find out if Luton can challenge for the job or not as quickly as possible.

The defensive line got a quality space eater, 6’4″ 310 lb. JC transfer DT Craig Evans, Oregon State’s other 4 star recruit, but little else. There wasn’t even a DE in the group until a late addition of Jalen Bush, from Timberline High in Lacey, WA. An edge rusher to compliment Bright Ugwoegbu was a big need, and apparently still is. If Luton works out at QB, this position will prove to be the biggest miss of the class.

In scanning the signees, one might note that there is only 1 LB, David Morris, and he might even wind up at safety. Morris is a solid get, the #2 linebacker prospect in the state, but before any hand-wringing over the lack of linebackers ensues, its important to remember that Oregon State brought in 7 linebackers, 5 of whom played as true freshmen, last year. It wasn’t a position of immediate need. which is why Andersen is considering moving Morris to safety.

There may be a couple of additions still to come, as one tally shows only 83 of the possible 85 scholarships awarded, though the release also shows the limit of 25 signees for the year. Whether there are a couple of exceptions under NCAA rules (and the whole issue of annual and total scholarships, coupled with special cases, is very fuzzy math at best), or whether there will be a delayed enrollment or two, is unknown. And as noted, there are few questions and fewer answers about such matters in the current era of scripted information flow.

Overall, its one of Oregon State’s better recruiting classes, rated 44th nationally at the moment by Rivals, only a slight drop after being as high as 39th at one point, and 43 by Scout. The best the Beavers have ever done was a class ranked 41st.

At the same time, that’s 9th best in the conference, with either Arizona or Washington St. (depending on which rating you use), Arizona State, and California behind the Beavers. California, with a very late coaching change, replacing Sonny Dykes with Justin Wilcox in a desperate attempt to salvage in-state recruiting and actually field a defense, is a very distant last to the rest of the conference, and it could be a bear of a time for the Bears for a couple of seasons.

Assessing the Pac

To no one’s surprise, USC is the best in the conference and the west, after the Trojans finished strong, rising to #6 according to Rivals, and #5 on Scout’s list at this point. Alabama, by the way, is a runaway #1, with 20% of the 5 star recruits in the country all set to become part of the Tide. Ohio State, with a half dozen more 5 stars, is solidly #2.

Despite the week of horrors the new Coach Willie Taggart had, which saw his strength and conditioning coach suspended for a month after excessively strenuous off-season drills landed 3 players in the hospital for several days, followed closely by the firing of one of his new assistants, after a DUII induced reckless driving incident, Oregon still managed multiple flips, and landed the 2nd best class in the conference.

Stanford is solid as well, especially notable since the Cardinal were in position to take only a little more than half a class. Still, those 14 include 3 5 star recruits, including the best offensive lineman in the country, Graham, WA’s Foster Sarell, whom they pried away from Washington, the best offensive lineman from Texas, who was the second best o-lineman in the country, and the #1 pro-style passer in the country. Stanford also landed the top TE in the country.

Washington, despite winning the Pac-12, was the big loser at the top, with only the 4th best class in the conference. This is still the best Husky class in a generation, but as expected, losing soundly in the CFB Playoffs clear across the country didn’t throw them any bones compared to their competition.

Indeed, USC’s climb and Washington’s fall were both enhanced when the Trojans came calling, and claimed DT Marlon Tuipulotu from just up the road at Central High in Independence, OR, after he had been a long-time commit that Washington was building their class around.

It serves as another reminder that USC is still USC, and Washington isn’t quite.

Neither is UCLA, who despite landing the top dual threat QB prospect in the country, and a pair of 5 star recruits, on balance found themselves just outside the top 20 Nationally.

Colorado earned a bump-up with their Pac-12 South Championship, and Utah as usual is about in the middle of the conference, solid but unspectacular.

In-State Sizeup

Recruiting in-state has always been important to Oregon State, and Andersen has re-stated his intention to try to hold on to as many in-state recruits as possible. The Beavers did land 3, which is 1 more than the Ducks got. But a lot of talent got away, from what wasn’t a very deep class to begin with.

Oregon got 2 offensive linemen in-state, including the top get, Alex Forsythe from West Linn, and Washington compensated for the loss of Sarell with Jesuit’s Jaxon Kirkland, who has family connections to the Huskies. Oregon State got the #4 in-state o-lineman in Travis Mackey from Central Catholic in Portland.

The best linebacker in the state, Daniel Green from Madison High in Portland chose Kansas State, over 7 Pac-12 schools, including both Oregon and Oregon State, as well as offers from the SEC, Big XII, and the Mt. West.

As noted, the Beavers landed Morris, the #2 LB.

USC swooped in and took the top 2 d-linemen in the state, getting Brandon Pili from Westview in Beaverton, as well as Tuipulotu.

Washington did get the best DB in the state, and hold on to him, in Elijah Molden from West Linn.

The only 3 star QB prospect in the state (after both John Bledsoe from Bend and Tim Tawa from West Linn seemingly dropped off the face of the earth), Wilsonville’s Connor Neville, is a Coug, signing with Washington State.

Notably, only 1 Oregon running back signed with an FBS school, North Bend’s Trey Woods, who went to Wyoming.

Biggest Misses

Oregon State’s biggest misses included 4 star wide receiver Jamire Calvin, who went with the Air Raid and Washington State, running backs T.J. Green, a 4 star who flipped to Utah, and Isaiah Miller, who went with Missouri.

Andersen and staff compensated for those misses, with Hodgins and Taylor, and a pair of diminutive Texas RBs in Calvin Tyler and B.J. Baylor.

But as noted, the Beavers needed help at defensive end, which Xavier Davis, who went to Kansas State, and Lorenzo Fauatea, who went to BYU, and former Oregon State assistant Kalani Sitake, now the head coach in Provo, might have provided, and no such compensation materialized there.

But a class that’s near the top of the program’s all time list is an encouraging sign, considering the recent run of 3 straight no-bowl seasons, and 5 in the last 7 years. There’s certainly some material to work with.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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