A chip off the ol' block at OSU

Seumalo finds his niche, playing for coordinator/father
by: Courtesy of Erik Dresser Junior defensive tackle Andrew Seumalo starts for the Beavers and is one of the most important parts to Oregon State’s front four.

CORVALLIS - When it came time for Andrew Seumalo to choose a college, it wasn't a difficult decision.

It was going to be Oregon State, where his father, Joe, is the defensive line coach.

'It's like a second home to me,' says the junior Seumalo, who will be in the starting lineup Saturday when the Beavers (2-5 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) visit Utah (3-4, 0-4) for a 4 p.m. PT encounter. 'Since my dad got hired here (in 2006), I've been around the school so much and gotten to know the guys on the staff.

'It became like family. I felt comfortable. My heart was content with going to Oregon State and playing for the Beavers.'

The only question was, would Seumalo ever get to play?

As a 6-3, 230-pound tight end and defensive tackle as a senior at Class 3A Santiam Christian in 2007, Seumalo was first-team all-state but not highly recruited. It wouldn't have mattered. He was going to play for his dad, even if it was as a walk-on.

'It has been like that all my life,' the junior Seumalo says. 'Wherever I'm playing, I'm getting tips from him, telling me what I need to work on.

'Playing for him is fantastic, really. He's a great coach and I wouldn't have it any other way.'

His father liked the idea, too. And though Andrew joined the program as a walk-on, he got a discount on tuition because Joe works for the university.

'I had a very positive reaction when he told me he wanted to play here,' Joe Seumalo says. 'I mean, it was a chance to coach my son. I loved the idea of being able to coach my son and staying with him his four years here.'

Patience was Andrew's greatest virtue. Now, as a 280-pound junior defensive tackle, he is a starter and one of the most important parts to Oregon State's front four.

'Andrew is the most improved player on our defense, not only since he joined the program, but during this season,' defensive coordinator Mark Banker says. 'With every game, we're seeing more and more of his capabilities. He has come out of his shell.

'Last year, he was kind of big-footed and slow-footed. This year, he is blasting through the line and making things happen.'

Seumalo leads Beaver D-tackles with 19 total tackles, including two tackles-for-loss and one sack. He blocked a field goal and conversion attempt against UCLA -- the first time in school history a player had blocked two kicks in a game.

'Here's a kid who has worked for years in our program and now we're seeing the results,' OSU head coach Mike Riley says. 'Andrew is a football player. He has become a really stable guy in there for us.'

Even with walk-on status, Seumalo never worried about eventually getting the chance to play.

'Never crossed my mind,' he says. 'I know my dad. The players who work hard and are reliable and consistent will get on the field.'

Did he ever get discouraged?

'Not once,' Seumalo says. 'If anyone knows my dad, it's me. I know what he wants and what he is expecting from his players. It's not like his expectations are out of reach.'

After redshirting as a true freshman, he saw spot duty at D-end as a redshirt freshman in 2009. He joined the D-line rotation as a sophomore in 2010, making seven tackles. All the while, he was lifting weights, getting stronger and bigger and moving up the depth chart.

In the offseason, Banker and the senior Seumalo decided to switch Andrew from end to tackle.

'Tackle was where he always needed to be,' Banker says. 'We just had to increase his mass.'

The coaches figured Andrew - who gained 15 pounds in the offseason - could be the fourth tackle in the rotation behind seniors Kevin Frahm and Dominic Glover and junior Castro Masaniai.

But Glover never became academically ineligible, and Masaniai was lost for the season to knee surgery following a 37-27 victory over Arizona. That has left Seumalo and Frahm taking nearly all the snaps at tackle the past two weeks.

'That's just the way things fell into place,' Seumalo shrugs. 'I knew I was ready for the opportunity when it presented itself.'

His father couldn't be more proud.

'I've always told him he is good enough to play at this level,' the D-line coach says. 'With the added weight, tackle has become a natural position for him. He has had an incredible year in the weight room, and that has filtered onto the field.

'He has done a great job. He is an intelligent player, and he is playing with a lot of confidence. I couldn't ask for anything more than what he has given us' this season.

And - you read it here first - Riley expects to put the kid on scholarship beginning winter term.

Andrew Seumalo made the right choice after all.