QB brings moxie, drive to contest
JC transfer Lyle Moevao will battle for OSU starting role
CORVALLIS - Keith Ellison pokes his head into a room where an interview with Lyle Moevao is taking place and grins.
'Write good things about him,' the Buffalo Bills' linebacker says. 'He's a Warrior.'
Ellison means a Warrior from El Camino College, the school in Torrance, Calif., that Ellison attended before playing his final two seasons at Oregon State.
But Ellison might as well have been talking about the competitive nature of Moevao (pronounced moy-VOW), who will begin his battle with Sean Canfield for the starting quarterback job when the Beavers open spring practice April 2.
'I like to get after it,' says Moevao, who redshirted last season and served as scout-team QB after transferring from El Camino. 'Can't wait until I put the pads on again. I'll be able to show what I can do with our style of offense instead of running somebody's else's. I enjoyed that, too, but now it's time for my thing.'
The Samoan 'tatau' that begins at the top of the shoulder and spreads down his right arm tells you everything you need to know about Moevao, he says.
It was designed and administered by an uncle, begun last summer and completed this winter. The tattoo's interweaving, Moevao says, explains above all the closeness he has with his three siblings - he is the youngest - and mother, Sheila Alofaituli, who has moved to Corvallis from Southern California and is living with her son.
'My strength,' he says, 'is in my family.'
Moevao says he also is tight with his father, Liavaa Moevao, a 19-year member of the Los Angeles Police Department who is divorced from Lyle's mother.
'He grew up in Samoa and didn't speak a word of English when he arrived in the U.S.,' Lyle says. 'What he has accomplished since then is amazing. He's always been around, always made sure I kept my head on straight.'
Player passed on Huskers
After completing 167 of 267 passes for 2,652 yards and 29 touchdowns with nine interceptions as a freshman at El Camino, Moevao verbally committed to Nebraska.
'I told the (Cornhusker) coaches I was coming,' he says. 'I felt strongly about that decision.'
But Moevao made a recruiting trip to Corvallis, met with coach Mike Riley and had a change of heart.
'I was really impressed with Coach Riley, and I found out how all the players felt about him,' Moevao says. 'He sat me down and explained all the attributes I had that could fill (Oregon State's) needs, but he was honest about everything. Keith was a big influence in my decision, too. I got a good feeling about everything here from what he said.'
Riley told Moevao that after a redshirt season, he would get an opportunity to compete for the starting job.
'It's an open competition between Lyle and Sean,' Riley says. 'They go in even. They're going to get equal turns. Lyle is good enough to be right in the thick of the competition with Sean.'
QBs have different styles
Moevao and Canfield couldn't be much more different in size and style.
The 6-0, 230-pound Moevao is right-handed and built like a linebacker. The 6-4, 225-pound Canfield - who backed up senior Matt Moore last season - is left-handed and is the QB prototype.
'Sean is a pro-style, drop-back, pocket passer, a beautiful thrower,' offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf says. 'Lyle has a strong arm and a quick release, but he's also a guy who will make a bunch of plays with his feet - more so than any quarterback we've had here. When Lyle is in there, we'll move him around in the pocket more. He's tough, and he's going to be a good threat for us both as a runner and thrower.'
Riley says Moevao's No. 1 asset is his arm, but the coach likes something else: 'He brings a kind of moxie to the game with an energetic, sort of happy style … I see him having capabilities in a leadership role.'
Funny - that's what Moevao sees as his best attribute.
'I like to express myself vocally,' says Moevao, who will be a sophomore next fall and have three years of eligibility. 'When I feel something, I'll tell the whole team. I have that fire burning inside. I know there's always something you can do better for the team.'
Canfield, a redshirt sophomore who arrived on campus in March 2005 after graduating early from high school, will be taking part in his third spring practice.
He also got valuable experience backingMoore last fall. But Moevao benefitted from a season as scout QB, going against the first-team defense every practice.
'It's good to know the head man is going into spring with an open mind about both quarterbacks,' Moevao says. '(Riley) wants to see what both of us can do. Probably just like everyone else.'
Inoke Breckterfield, the former all-Pac-10 defensive end who helped OSU coaches on a voluntary basis last season, will replace Keith Heyward as the Beavers' graduate assistant for defense. Brian Smith, who served as an administrative GA, has been hired as offensive line coach at Portland State.