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Mike Riley breaks down Beavers, pre-camp

Catching up with Oregon State coach Mike Riley before he leaves on vacation …

• After assessing spring football and surveying strengths and weaknesses of his 2014 team, Riley says he "feels real good" about where the Beavers are going into August training camp.

The loss of of a pair of big-play guys -- receiver Brandin Cooks on offense and end Scott Crichton on defenses, who would have both been seniors next season -- to the NFL won't be recouped through two players. It will have to be a collective effort, "and we're hoping for a lot of development through offseason work at during camp," Riley says.

The addition of long-time NFL assistant coach John Garrett as offensive coordinator has created some wrinkles to Riley's pro-style offense that may lead to more balance without giving up too much in the passing game.

They'll be led by one of the premier quarterbacks in the country in senior Sean Mannion, who set a Pac-12 passing record last season with 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Running back is solid, with senior Terron Ward, junior Storm Woods, sophomore Chris Brown and redshirt freshman Damien Haskins entering camp in a competition for playing time.

Tight end remains a position of strength, with veterans Connor Hamlett, Caleb Smith and Kellen Clute, incoming freshman Ryan Nall and Cal transfer Jacob Wark.

"We can easily carry five tight ends," Riley says. "That's not inconceivable. We play three at a time in certain situations."

The odds that the 6-3, 230-pound Nall -- an all-state running back while at Central Catholic -- will redshirt this season went down with the loss due to medical retirement of tight ends Tyler Perry (neck, shoulder, concussions) and Hayden Craig (concussions).

"I like to redshirt all our true freshmen, but I also want to make this team the strongest it can be," Riley says. "If Ryan can help the team this year, he will play. Physically, Ryan is close. He's a well-developed kid already. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays this year."

The 6-4, 250-pound Wark -- a senior who prepped at Jesuit -- will play, too.

"Jacob is experienced and a good fit for what we want at that position," Riley says. "He's a good blocker, a good receiver -- one of those hybrid guys who is hard to find. We feel like a guy landed in our lap that can help the 2014 Beavers."

The question marks on the offensive side will come at receiver and in the line.

"We still have work to do at receiver," Riley says. "Some young guys need to develop. But the biggest thing we have to do is solidify and figure out who goes where on the offensive line. That's the key area."

In the O-line, Isaac Seumalo, Josh Mitchell and Grant Bays missed all or most of spring ball with injuries. Seumalo (foot) and Mitchell (shoulder) underwent surgery; Bays has a back problem that has been alleviated through rehab. Mitchell and Bays are expected to be good to go for the start of camp; Seumalo "is touch and go to be ready by the start, but he'll be ready at some point during camp," Riley says.

Much will be determined by how JC transfer Bobby Keenan and converted tight ends Will Hopkins and Dustin Stanton perform at tackle.

"They're all prospects who one day will be ready to play well for us," Riley says. "We just don't know if that will be by this fall."

If one of them wins a starting job, it would allow Seumalo to stay at center and Sean Harlow to move to guard. Gavin Andrews would start at the other tackle and Mitchell, Bays and Roman Sapolu would battle for the other starting guard spot.

If Keenan, Hopkins and Stanton aren't ready, there's a chance Seumalo would move to tackle and Bays would take over the center job.

"Grant can be a good center for us, and Isaac would be a great tackle if we need him there," Riley says. "Against the three-man fronts we see a lot, he could be a big factor for us."

Two of the starters going into camp at receiver will be sophomore Victor Bolden at flanker and junior Richard Mullaney at split end. Sophomore Malik Gilmore and redshirt freshman Hunter Jarmon will vie for the starting slotback spot. Sophomore Kendall Hill and redshirt freshman Jordan Villamin will "be in the mix" for rotation spots.

Oregon State's defensive line has much more depth than a year ago, even with the loss of Crichton.

"The picture looks pretty darn good there, though we still need development at one of the ends opposite Dylan Wynn," Riley says.

Linebacker is OSU's strongest position, with returning starters D.J. Alexander, Michael Doctor and Jabral Johnson and capable backups Rommel Mageo, Caleb Saulo and Darrel Songy.

Starters Ty Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy and talented Cyril Noland-Lewis are back at safety, as is honors candidate Steven Nelson at one cornerback. Promising redshirt freshman Dashon Hunt and junior Larry Scott will battle for the other corner spot and will provide the three-man rotation there.

Riley says junior Jashwa James is "the front-runner" to start at the D-end spot opposite Wynn, with junior Lavonte Barnett, converted senior receiver Obum Gwachum and redshirt freshman Baker Pritchard battling for rotation spots.

NOTES: Oregon State lost two returning players and two recruits for various reasons. Redshirt freshman Walter Jones will transfer, and incoming freshman Jake Knight will attend school elsewhere, both to pursue track and field. "Walter had some family issues, too, and wanted to be closer to home," Riley says. "He's a talented kid. Through development, he'd have been a player for us." Knight's decision "surprised us," Riley says, "but it's good to know it now." … Freshman linebacker Michael Greer, who was buried on the depth chart, will transfer, and D-line recruit Fitou Fisiiahi will play rugby at Kutztown (Pa.), a Division II school. Fisiiahi may not have been able to qualify academically at OSU. … Linebacker recruit Ricky Liuchan will likely have to grayshirt due to academic deficiencies.

After a year dealing with academic requirement issues, the 6-4, 245-pound Villamin is cleared for duty at August camp. "I'm excited about getting Jordan in and working with him," says Riley of the biggest wideout during his 14 years at OSU. "He's so talented, he'll add to the (receiver) picture immediately." … OSU coaches are now doubtful that JC transfer D-tackle Kyle Peko will be aboard in August. … Riley says the Beavers are right at the 85-man scholarship limit, including Peko. If Peko doesn't make it, JC transfer Kyle Haley would be a likely addition. Haley would have three years to complete three seasons of eligibility. … Luke Del Rio, the transfer from Alabama who was on hand for spring ball, will likely enter camp as the No. 2 quarterback behind Mannion. "Luke did really well," Riley says. "He picks up things very easily, has good talent and can make all the throws. As thin as our offensive line was in the spring game, Luke made some plays that were impressive."

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