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'Coach Wynn' steps into leadership role

Detail-oriented end was ready to play as OSU freshman
by: ERIK DRESSER Dylan Winn, a true freshman at Oregon State, has showed the kind of “motor” that football coaches like to see in defensive players.

CORVALLIS - Scott Crichton remembers his first meeting with Dylan Wynn.

Crichton, Oregon State's redshirt freshman defensive end, was going through a summer workout session with other returning players. Wynn, also a D-end, was the only true freshman watching from the sidelines.

'At one point, he corrected me on something,' Crichton says. 'I was surprised. I was thinking, 'This guy knows what he is doing. He is going to be a great addition for us.' '

Wynn remembers the incident, too.

'It was funny,' he says. 'All the guys were laughing at Scottie and looking at me saying, 'Big shot, eh?'

'I'm basically a quiet person when I'm getting to know people, and then my true colors come out.'

Wynn is starting and showing early leadership skills for Oregon State, which plays host to fourth-ranked Stanford in a 12:30 p.m. Saturday matchup at Reser Stadium.

By summer, Wynn, product of the fabled De La Salle High program in Concord, Calif., had already spent time memorizing Oregon State's defensive play book.

'My high school was very detail-oriented,' Wynn explains. 'We watched a lot of (game video). I figured when I came to training camp (in August), the quickest way for me to get on the field was to know my assignments. That's what I focused on.'

Wynn's nickname at De La Salle was 'Coach Wynn.'

'I didn't like it,' he says, 'but the guys always said it. When I'd get taken out of the games, we'd put enough points on (opponents) that I'd sometimes be done at halftime.

'I'd put my helmet on the cooler, and I'd be yelling more than the coaches would. That's what they emphasize at De La Salle. It's a players' team, not the coaches' team. That's how you get to the greatness that school has had.'

OSU coach Mike Riley took De La Salle's reputation into consideration when recruiting Wynn.

'He grew up in a great program,' Riley says. 'Those guys teach football. They teach a lot of other qualities, too, but their kids learn how to play football. Dylan plays with a special awareness.'

Wynn, rated the 23rd best D-end in the nation, helped De La Salle to its 19th consecutive North Coast championship and its fifth consecutive state title game as a senior, registering 50 tackles and 12 sacks despite his playing time being limited by early exits from a string of blowout victories.

After making unofficial visits to such schools as Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Stanford and California, Wynn narrowed his choices down to Oregon State and Oklahoma State before choosing the Beavers.

With Oregon State struggling at 2-6 and Oklahoma State 8-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country, should Wynn have opted for the Cowboys?

'I had a teammate ask me, 'You could be at Oklahoma State as a linebacker. Why are you here?' ' Wynn says. 'But I absolutely stick behind this decision.

'Oklahoma State was an amazing place; that's why my decision was so hard. It's just a feeling you get about a place. I was comfortable at Oklahoma State and the coaches are great, but there was something a little different here. It came down to, in the worst times, where am I going to be able to handle that the best? That was Oregon State.

'I love the coaches. I connected right away with coach Joe (Seumalo). It really is about family here. They care about you as a player, but they truly care about you as a person, and what you will accomplish with your life. I really can't think of a better place to play college football.'

The original idea was to redshirt Wynn.

'We thought physically he would be ready,' Riley says. 'He's a workout fiend, very physically developed for such a young guy. A lot of it was going to depend on our depth.'

Dominic Glover never gained his academic eligibility. And as training camp went on, Wynn stood out.

'Two weeks into camp,' Riley says, 'we said to ourselves, 'We have to play this kid.' '

'My goal was to not redshirt,' Wynn says. 'I wanted to contribute and help the team. When I had my redshirt pulled, I was surprised, but I was ready for it, if the coaches thought I could help out.'

Wynn started out in the D-end rotation and as a member of the kickoff and kickoff return packages. Soon he was a starter on the defense, such an opportunist that he has already recovered five fumbles - leading the nation and setting a school single-season record.

Late in last Saturday's loss at Utah, Wynn was in at nose tackle on the Beavers' goal-line defensive package.

'We were just trying to get more linemen in there,' Wynn says with a shrug. 'I'm not going to complain about playing time. It seems like I can help the team a lot, so I'm feeling good about that.'

Wynn already has 26 tackles, including 3 1/2 tackles-for-loss, in addition to the fumble recoveries. He deflects praise to tackles such as Andrew Seumalo, Kevin Frahm and Ben Motter.

'It's not just me doing what I have to do, it's the stunts the coaches are putting me in, and it's the other guys on the D-line,' Wynn says. 'Whenever I come free, it's because someone else is taking two or three (blockers).

'I mean, Kevin will take two (blockers) and still make a play. It's a credit to the inside guys more than it is to me. I'm getting lucky with the stunts.'

Crichton mentions Wynn's high intensity level.

'He has a motor, just like Kevin Frahm,' Crichton says. 'They just keep going 100 percent every play, every practice and every game.'

'I try to play with passion,' Wynn says. 'I was raised that way. Put everything you have into anything. You never know if you're never going to be able to do it again.

'I don't ever stop when I'm on the field. The first time you stop, it becomes easier to stop the next time.'

Defensive coordinator Mark Banker has noticed. In some ways, Wynn is like an unbridled colt put to pasture.

'The energy Dylan brings is awesome,' Banker says. 'He has become more assertive now that he feels more comfortable. He is very respectful of the older players around him, but he is more himself now to the point where every once in a while we have to say, 'Slow down.' '

'It was difficult in camp sometimes,' Riley adds with a chuckle. 'I thought he was going to hurt somebody, he played so hard.'

Riley says Wynn reminds him of former Beaver Bill Swancutt, the 2004 Pac-10 co-defensive player of the year.

'I used to say about Bill, if you're going to against him, you better buckle up, because you're going to have to play hard all day,' the OSU coach says. 'That's the way it is with Dylan.

'He goes full-speed ahead every play, every day. When guys hustle like that, good things tend to happen.'

Crichton and Wynn bring stability at the D-end position for the next four years at Oregon State. They're part of an exceptional freshman group that includes quarterback Sean Mannion, tailback Malcolm Agnew, receiver Brandin Cooks, safety Ryan Murphy and kicker Trevor Romaine, among others.

'Nobody is saying anything about it, because we are so focused on this season,' Wynn says with a nod. 'But you can tell everyone has that feeling. We're going to have something really special in another year or two.'