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No surprises, as OSU inks variety of JCs, preps

CORVALLIS — Oregon State coach Mike Riley proclaimed his 24-player recruiting class of 2013 “really good,” but added a caveat Wednesday afternoon.

“No coach is going to come out and say, ‘This is a pretty average group,’ " Riley said with a laugh. “That ain’t going to happen.”

The unique thing about Oregon State’s group is the Beavers didn’t lose a single verbal commitment to poaching from another school. It’s the first time that has happened in Riley’s 13-year tenure.

“There were no surprises,” Riley said, “and there are still a couple of guys we’re waiting on.”

They are Tatum Taylor, the speed-burning receiver from Seattle who came back into the Oregon State picture this week, and Charles Tua’au, a defensive end from Riverside (Calif.) College. Both have indicated they intend to sign with the Beavers, but the OSU staff hadn’t received their letters by Wednesday night.

There were some 11th-hour disappointments. Three undecided players Oregon State hoped to land signed elsewhere — linebacker Keishawn Bierria with Washington, safety L.J. Moore with Oklahoma and offensive tackle Blake Muir, a transfer from Hawaii, who is headed for Baylor. A fourth, linebacker Edward Williams of New Orleans, has yet to sign.

Riley and his coaching staff addressed Oregon State’s most pressing needs — in the defensive line and secondary — with junior-college talent.

The Beavers are losing starting D-tackles Andrew Seumalo and Castro Masaniai and All-America cornerback Jordan Poyer. Among the recruits are JC D-tackles Edwin Delva, Siale Hautua and Kyle Peko and cornerback Steven Nelson. All have the potential to be starters next season.

“You can liken (a JC signing) to an NFL team signing a free agent,” Riley said. “It’s very important that it works. These guys only have two years here. They have to make a lot of headway in two years. We do our best to hit it right on the head.

“We want to have a D-line rotation of 8-10 guys. When we’re doing that, we’ve been at our best, like we were last season. We have to have good depth, and the guys we signed will help us have it.”

Riley compared his JC recruiting group to that of 2006, when the Beavers landed Joey LaRocque, Dorian Smith, Gerard Lee, Clinton Polk and Coy Francies.

“That’s what we hope these five JC players do,” Riley said. “Impact our team right away, get in the rotation or win a starting job.”

The Beavers signed four wide receivers, four linebackers and three cornerbacks.

“We covered a lot of bases with some really good athletes,” Riley said.

Among the players who could play right away are offensive tackle Sean Harlow of San Clemente, Calif., cornerback Dashon Hunt of Westlake, Calif., and linebacker Michael Greer of Palm Springs, Calif.

The 6-5, 275-pound Harlow “is a tough, good player and he might be a freshman lineman who can impact right away like Isaac (Seumalo) or Michael (Philipp),” Riley said. “Physically, he’s developed enough to compete.”

As of Wednesday night, Oregon State’s recruiting class was ranked in a tie for 37th nationally and in a tie for eighth in the Pac-12 with Utah by Rivals.com and 38th and eighth by Scout.com.

“I’ve never really worried about it,” said Riley, whose best class was ranked 31st in 2004. “We trust our evaluations and feel good about it. Frankly, a lot of times those rankings are wrong. A lot of times, those guys aren’t as good as they thought they’d be, or they are better. We had two Super Bowl quarterbacks this year who were recruited by one school — Joe Flacco’s one offer was by Delaware, Colin Kaepernick’s was by Nevada. So these rankings aren’t right on.

“We don’t put a lot of stock in that stuff. We rely on our abilities and our process. We look at tons of players and select from there. When you do that, you feel good about it. You don’t really care what somebody else might see. It’s about evaluating how (a player) might fit into your system.”

Riley paused as he headed down the hall in Gill Coliseum toward his office in Valley Football Center.

“We like this class a lot,” he said, speaking of his coaching staff. “That’s really all that matters.”

NOTES — For the first time in Riley’s 13 years, Oregon State did not sign a Northwest recruit. The Beavers recruited several state-of-Oregon prospects, including Aloha offensive tackle Braydon Kearsley, who at one point told the OSU coaches he was coming before signing with Brigham Young. “We recruited some of them hard and they elected to go someplace else,” Riley said. “I don’t feel too bad about that. I know what we put into it. We always intend to study the state and go after in-state kids first, but we were able to cover our bases elsewhere this time around. If it didn’t work out this year, maybe it will next year. Plus, we have more access to (game video) than ever before nationwide. We have a few connections in Oklahoma and Texas, and we’re getting closer to that in Louisiana.” ... The one pseudo-in-state player OSU signed was quarterback Kyle Kempt out of Massillon, Ohio, who grew up in Beaverton and played as a freshman at Aloha High. Kempt verbally committed to Cincinnati before a coaching change caused the Bearcats to pull his scholarship offer. “It was fortunate for us that Kyle came back alive” in recruiting circles, Riley said. “We knew about him when he was in Oregon. It was hard not to know about him. We had interest, but he committed relatively early. When it opened up again, we had recruited two QBs to that point. We re-evaluated him and said, ‘Let’s go after him.’ He knows who we are. We know he’s a good fit for what we do.”

Two years in a row, Riley has had players go down to the signing deadline uncommitted and had them either not sign or sign elsewhere because of a difference of opinion in the family. “I’m going to advise all the kids we recruit next year, decide at least a week before so you can play it all out beforehand and everybody’s all in,” he said. “One kid decided on a school — maybe it was us, though I don’t know for sure — but his parents wanted him to go elsewhere. They wouldn’t sign the papers, so he didn’t sign. It caused a whole bunch of drama. You don’t need to do that. Make a decision, let it sit, sign and have a celebration.” ... Riley, on his message to OSU’s 19 prep signees: “Come to (training) camp ready to play, not to redshirt, and we’ll see where you are.” ... The OSU coach said receivers Victor Bolden, Hunter Jarmin and Walter Jones are all-around receivers well-suited to run the fly sweep while 6-5, 205-pound Jordan Villamin is “a big receiver who is a great target.” ... Cornerback/receiver Corey Lawrence is “a great returner, a great defensive and a great offensive player. He can do all that stuff. We’ll probably play him at corner.”

Riley feels secondary coach Rod Perry’s reputation and recruiting style paid off. “I remember when he was hired,” Riley said. “People were wondering about that he hadn’t recruited since he coached in the NFL for so many years. He played a major factor in recruiting this year, particularly getting a guy like Steven Nelson. USC is just one of the teams that tried to recruit him. Rod is the reason Steven came here. He’s a great coach and mentor for young men. I was with him on visits to homes. He has a great way about him, and his credibility is almost unsurpassed.” ... Landing three cornerbacks “is one of the things I’m most pleased with,” Riley said. “We haven’t done that well recruiting corners. We’ve had to convert them a lot of times from other positions. This year, we came through with guys we’ve recruited as corners and think they will be good corners.” Hayden Craig, a 6-5, 245-pound tight end who prepped at Dayton before winding up in Montana, has transferred to OSU as a walk-on. He is in school and will sit out next season with what Riley hopes is three years of eligibility beginning in 2014. “We liked him a lot out of high school and almost offered him,” Riley said. ... Riley’s son, Matt, who has been a video coordinator for the OSU athletic department the past three years, leaves Friday for the position of web video supervisor at Texas. He begins work on Feb. 18. ... Defensive tackle Mana Rosa, suspended for a bar incident prior to the Alamo Bowl, has been reinstated. The senior-to-be had foot surgery and is currently on crutches but should be ready for training camp in August. ... Former OSU stars Keaton Kristick and Dorian Smith are being considered for defensive graduate assistant posts.

2013 OREGON STATE CLASS

Brandon Arnold, 6-0, 185 S, Encino, Calif.

Victor Bolden, 5-9, 165 WR, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Edwin Delva, 6-3, 290 DT, Antelope Valley CC, Lancaster, Calif.

Titus Failauga, 6-5, 240 DE, Honolulu

Damien Haskins, 5-9, 215 RB, New Boston, Texas

Michael Greer, 6-2, 195 LB, Palm Springs, Calif.

Siale Hautau, 6-0, 315 DT, Snow College, Ephraim, Utah

Sean Harlow, 6-5, 260 OT, San Clemente, Calif.

Manase Hungalu, 6-2, 225 DE, Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Dashon Hunt, 5-10, 175 CB, Westlake Village, Calif.

Hunter Jarmon, 6-0, 190 WR, Waco, Texas

Walter Jones, 6-1, 175 WR, Redlands, Calif.

Kyle Kempt, 6-5, 200 QB, Masillon, Ohio

Fred Lauina, 6-3, 270 OT, American Samoa

Corey Lawrence, 6-1, 175 WR/CB, Del City, Okla.

Lawrence Mattison, 6-1, 225 RB, Spring Branch, Texas

Steven Nelson, 6-0, 185 CB, College of the Sequoias, Visalia, Calif.

Charles Okonkwo, 6-1, 180 CB, Fontana, Calif.

Kyle Peko, 6-2, 295 DT, Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif.

Terin Solomon, 6-2, 185 S, Murrieta, Calif.

Darrell Songy, 6-1, 220 LB, Pflugerville, Texas

Justin Strong, 5-11 185 S, Fontana, Calif.

Lyndon Tulimasealii, 6-4, 270 DE, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, Calif.

Jordan Villamin, 6-4, 195 WR, Etiwanda, Calif.