Line gets rugged duty before PSU spring game
New right tackle Isaac Aronson says he has a lot of work to do
Spring drills may be a time for college football teams to learn systems and get to know one another. But for the coaches who are paid to get results, there's more to worry about than socializing.
Eventually, 'get-acquainted week' evolves into a lot of yelling, which is what Portland State's offensive line coach, Eric Reid, has been doing to get his five-man unit to jell.
For example: 'That's what I want to see,' Reid yells out during Monday's practice. 'You better keep practicing like that if you want to earn that spot, No. 95.'
No. 95 turns out to be 6-7 Isaac Aronson, a senior transfer from Oregon State who is throwing himself into his third school in three years.
He's a right tackle, and he is struggling.
'My main problem is my strength,' says Aronson, who transferred to Oregon State University from Cal State-Northridge before last year. 'That's something I'm working on and will be working on this summer.
'Right now, I'm just trying to pick things up and fit and get a head start on fall camp. If I was playing like this in fall, I'd be in trouble.'
Portland State closes out three weeks of drills with its spring game, scheduled for 7 tonight at Tigard High School. There is no admission charge.
Aronson is at PSU because he wanted to be closer to his hometown, Tacoma, and he thought he didn't fit in with the Beaver program. Aronson never got acquainted with the OSU linemen and says he hung out mostly with defensive backs, including Dennis Weathersby, who was selected in the recent NFL draft.
Aronson has fond memories of Weathersby because of a series of long talks they had last fall. Aronson developed mononucleosis just before fall camp, which came on the heels of an auto accident that left his brother, Ian, a quadriplegic.
'He's a good guy who really helped me out,' Aronson says of Weathersby. 'That was a tough time, not only because of my brother but the mono, too. I was struggling with my confidence.'
Aronson says he heads to Tacoma every other weekend to spend time with Ian.
At PSU, Aronson's role as a starter is by no means a set thing. Senior Jason Hicks, who is 6-5, started six games last year and has shown improvement.
'There's some competition at that spot, definitely,' Viking coach Tim Walsh says. 'Isaac has to get better and get stronger. But we know he has talent. We played against him at Northridge, so we know he can block.'
Aronson is fitting in with the Vikings better than with the Beavers.
'I've found it to be a real friendly, accepting place,' he says. 'It's working out a lot better for me.'
'You've got to admire him for picking up his third offense in three years,' says guard and former Grant standout Seneca Sledge, who is headed for his sophomore season. 'He's doing well with that. It's mainly just about getting your mind right, and then things can click.'
Aronson says one of the motivators for him is the potential of the Vikings' offense. Junior tailback Ryan Fuqua has run for 1,000 yards as a freshman and sophomore and junior quarterback Joe Wiser has shown the ability to lead the team in what would be his first year as the starter.
'We're going to be an exciting team,' he says. 'And those guys in the backfield, it's going to be nice to block for them because they're the kind of guys who can make you look good on the line, no matter what you do. If you make a mistake, they can overcome that with a juke or something.'