First things first for Mike Riley, Beavers
Talking Oregon State football ...
It's been the busiest of times for coach Mike Riley -- recruiting season, compounded by the loss of offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf to the NFL's New York Giants.
So much so that Riley is taking wife Dee with him to Tallahassee, Fla., for ex-OSU receiver Brandin Cooks' acceptance of the Biletnikoff Award next weekend. And the Rileys are going to stay a couple of extra days in the Florida sun to reacquaint themselves with one another.
Before that, though, is Wednesday's letter-of-intent signing day and steps toward the hiring of a new O-coordinator.
The latter first. Riley is in the early stages of the process and is in no hurry to make a hire, though it will happen in the next couple of weeks.
"I'll get busy on it next week," Riley said Friday. "I've had tons of calls, and good calls, from very interesting candidates. So many people are interested, I want to respond to everybody before I really get going on it."
Will Riley go outside to find someone with major experience -- head-coaching and/or O-coordinator experience -- to bring in some fresh ideas? Or will he go in-house, perhaps to elevate receivers coach Brent Brennan or bring back chief of staff Jay Locey to the coaching side, while maybe moving assistant director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson in to coach the quarterbacks?
"I'm looking both ways," is all Riley would say.
Oregon State's quarterback situation -- which looked dire until Sean Mannion decided to return for his senior season, and still seemed thin even after it -- suddenly looks much better.
There was the December revelation that Zach Kline, the backup last season at California, will transfer to OSU this summer. The 6-2, 200-pound Kline is attending Berkeley (Calif.) City College and will have to sit out next season, with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Last week came the news that Luke Del Rio, who had spurned an OSU scholarship offer out of high school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., to walk on at Alabama, will also transfer and become a Beaver. The 6-2, 205-pound Del Rio, who redshirted with the Crimson Tide last fall, has been admitted to OSU and is expected to be in school for spring term and be available for spring ball.
Del Rio, who passed for 2,275 yards and 28 touchdowns with four interceptions in leading Valor Christian High to the Colorado 5A state title as a senior in 2012, had narrowed his choices down to Oregon State and Oklahoma State before deciding to walk on at Alabama.
"Its a funny world," said Riley, who played his college ball at Alabama. "When he called and said he was going to Alabama, I said, 'Luke, if you change your mind, give me a call.' I didnt know it would be a year later.
"Im excited about having him. We really liked him out of high school. He has all the qualities you look for in a pro-style quarterback -- the arm, the production, the athletic ability, the smarts. There's a great spot for him on our team."
As it stands now, Del Rio -- son of Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio -- will sit out the 2014 season and have three years of eligibility remaining. The Del Rios have indicated to Riley, however, that they will appeal to the NCAA to regain Luke's freshman season. If the appeal were to be granted, Del Rio would be eligible to play next fall as a redshirt freshman.
The other quarterbacks on Oregon State's roster for next season are sophomore Brent VanderVeen and redshirt freshman Kyle Kempt. Three high schools seniors expected to sign letters-of-intent on Wednesday are QBs -- Marcus McMaryion of Dinuba, Calif.,
Nick Mitchell of Snoqualmie, Wash., and Tanner Sanders of Crescent Valley High. The 6-4, 200-pound Sanders is likely to move to receiver at OSU, though.
The guess here is that in 2015, Kempt, Del Rio and Kline will battle it out to be Mannion's successor. Kline, incidentally, remains a free agent who could opt to go elsewhere. So far, he hasn't indicated to OSU coaches any change of heart in his decision to play for the Beavers.
With most of the hay in the barn, Riley said recruiting is "going great. It's a real good class, and we feel very stable with our commitments right now."
Oregon State has 24 verbal commitments -- one short of the limit -- going into the weekend, with 6-3, 310-pound defensive tackle Kammy Delp of Pomona, Calif., on campus for an official visit.
If Delp accepts a scholarship offer, that puts OSU at the maximum. If not, the final ride would likely go to either David Moala, a 6-2, 310-pound D-tackle from Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., or 6-0, 170-pound safety Xavier Crawford from Concord, Calif. Delp and Crawford both decommitted -- Delp from Arizona State, Crawford from San Diego State.
The Beavers also have a verbal from running back Harris Ross out of Pittsburg, Calif. Under new NCAA rules, OSU coaches would likely ask Ross not to sign now and to enter school as a grayshirt next winter.
The prospective 2014 class is heavy on linemen -- six on the defensive side, four on the offensive side of the ball -- and balanced, with the two quarterbacks, two tight ends, three receivers, three defensive backs and three linebackers.
Still no word on the status of linebacker and Michael Doctor and receiver Jordan Villamin.
Doctor seems relatively certain to gain approval from the NCAA for a medical redshirt senior season but won't learn his fate until March. OSU coaches are unsure when they'll find out about Villamin, who sat out his first season as a partial qualifier, but it seems likely he won't gain eligibility until the summer.