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Remmers blossoms into Oregon State's top O-lineman

by: ERIK DRESSER Oregon State's Mike Remmers (right) wards off an opposing defensive lineman.

CORVALLIS - For the essence of Mike Remmers in a nutshell, consider this quote:

'I'm a nice person. On the field, I try not to be.'

Good guy. Bad-ass football player.

At least that's the goal for Oregon State's senior left tackle, the Beavers' best and most consistent offensive linemen entering the 2011 season.

The 6-4, 305-pound Jesuit High graduate is the most experienced player on the team, with 32 career starts dating to his redshirt freshman season in 2008.

Each season, O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh seems to pick one of his troops as the likeliest to dominate his opponents during the upcoming campaign. This year, it's Remmers.

'He can be dominant,' Cavanaugh says. 'He has all the tools. He's big and athletic and has good work ethic. He just has to want it. He has to get out on that field and get it done.'

Cavanaugh has moved Remmers from right tackle to the all-important left tackle spot to protect the backside of right-handed quarterback Ryan Katz. If that puts more pressure on Remmers to get the job done, he seems impervious.

'I felt pressure playing on the right side,' Remmers says. 'It's the same thing. I'm going to go out there and give 100 percent every play. I'm not really worried about the pressure.'

Remmers is among the unlikeliest of Oregon State's honors candidates. He walked on at OSU and didn't receive a scholarship until his fourth season in the program, before his junior year of eligibility.

A starter on Jesuit's state championship squads of 2005 and '06, Remmers was only second-team all-Metro League as he played on a Crusader team full of standouts. Among his teammates who have gone on to play Division I ball are OSU teammate Michael Lamb, Owen Marecic (Stanford), Raphiel Lambert (Boise State), Sean Williams (Yale), Dan Wagner (Washington State), Paul Weatheroy (Air Force) and Adam Kleffner (Portland State).

At 225 pounds as a senior, Remmers was lost in the college recruiting shuffle.

'I didn't get one offer,' Remmers recalls. 'Eastern Washington was like talking to me about walking on.'

The Remmers' family legacy to Oregon State paid off, however. Mike's father, Wally, was a starting offensive guard at OSU in the mid-1970s. His brother, Vic, played basketball there from 2002-05.

One day in the winter of 2007, Jesuit coach Ken Potter beckoned Mike to his office, where OSU assistant coach Jay Locey was waiting.

'I said, 'That's a guy I want to talk to,' ' Remmers says. 'He said I could walk on. I was pretty happy about that.

'I've been a Beaver fan my whole life. We came to Beaver games all the time. I've always fancied the orange and black. If I hadn't gotten the opportunity to play football, I'd have still gone to school here.'

By his redshirt freshman season, Remmers had bulked up to 280 pounds. Good thing. Senior Tavita Thompson was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, and Remmers wound up starting the first seven games.

'I got thrown into the fire,' he says. 'It was kind of scary at first. When I look back on it, I think, 'What was I thinking on certain plays when I totally blew it?' But for how young and inexperienced I was, it went pretty well.'

Remmers has blossomed under the sometimes imposing, often intimidating tutelage of the fiery Cavanaugh.

'It's been an awesome experience,' Remmers says. 'At first, it was kind of weird, him yelling and screaming all the time. That's his on-field persona. Off the field, he's the nicest guy in the world. He cares a lot about all of us. He's a very loving person. But on the field, it's strictly business.

'Cav's a great coach. He knows everything about the O-line. Ask him any question and he'll tell you exactly what to do to get the job done on the field.'

Remmers has improved his strength, but his savvy and mastery of technique are his biggest assets.

'I'm not as strong as I want to be. I'm not a Stephen Paea,' he says. 'Strength is really important, but technique is even more important. You can be the strongest guy in the world, but if you don't have technique you're not going to be able to block anyone.

'Having all the starts really helps. By being out on the field, you can develop good habits. Now I see something going on and I'll react the right way. If you're a younger guy with little experience, you're more nervous. I feel pretty comfortable right now.'

Remmers is uncomfortable with the way the OSU O-line performed last season.

'It was pretty upsetting,' he says. 'I wish we'd had more success than we did. But we're using that as motivation for this season. We want to dominate the trenches.'

Told that many are writing off Oregon State after its 5-7 record last season, Remmers shakes his head.

'When do people not write us off?' he asks. 'No one has expected us to have the success we've had the past five or six years. We like being the underdogs.

'We're going to have a good season. I want to end my senior year with a bang. I want this thing to have a happy ending.'

Remmers, who will graduate with a degree in new media communications this fall, is looking toward an NFL future.

'That would be a dream come true,' he says.

If it's a long shot, well, so was getting a scholarship at OSU.

'I earned it,' he says. 'For all the players who are considering walking on or are currently walking on at Oregon State, I hope it gives them inspiration to keep working hard. Good things can happen.'