CORVALLIS A look at football letter-of-intent signing day at Oregon State
Oregon State signed 24 athletes, including seven junior-college players.
OSU's class was ranked 41st nationally and ninth in the Pac-12 by Rivals, 46th nationally and 10th in the Pac-12 by 24/7 Sports and 52nd nationally and 11th in the Pac-12 by Scout.
(Oregon, incidentally, was ranked fourth in the Pac-12 by all three websites and between 24th and 27th nationally. The top three Pac-12 schools were Southern Cal, UCLA and Stanford.)
Oregon State signed 16 athletes to play defense and eight to play offense.
The breakdown: one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one offensive lineman, seven defensive linemen, six linebackers, one cornerback and two safeties.
Oregon State retains one scholarship to offer, "but it would have to be an absolute difference-maker," coach Gary Andersen said Wednesday.
OSU signed only one in-state player -- receiver Trevon Bradford of Oregon City. The Beavers signed five players from Arizona, four apiece from Utah, California and Florida, three from Washington and one apiece from Texas, Hawaii and Alabama.
Andersen's reflections about his first full-recruiting-season class: "We're going to recruit nationally. We're going to go after the best of the best, and we're also going to find those developmental kids we believe in. We took the kids we liked. If you're winning all (the recruiting battles), you're not recruiting the right way. But we won our fair share. We have a nice class put together. We'll see how nice of a class it is in a few years."
Oregon State didn't lose a player who had verbally committed, a rarity in recent years at the school. OSU lost in a late battle with Washington State over offensive lineman Frederick Mauigoa from American Samoa. But the Beavers also landed a pair of prospects late in the process -- linebacker Kee Whetzel from Clearwater, Fla., who had been offered by Arizona, Maryland and Central Florida, and 350-pound JC defensive tackle David Fangupo, who had verbally committed to Utah.
"I felt very good going to bed (Tuesday) night," Andersen said. "I talked to every one of (the verbal commits) and they were all locked in.
"I've had it go both ways. I've had years where you don't lose a guy, and other years when, on signing date, you take a couple of body blows you had no idea were coming. But these kids were good. They had a lot of interest (from other schools) throughout this process. Even as of the last 48 hours, it became contested.
"People try to confuse kids. That's part of the process. I'm not saying we're not going to recruit to the very last hour. If we can flip somebody a minute before he pushes 'send' on the letter of intent, we're going to go get him to us. It was good they all hung tight, and we were able to get a couple of late ones."
Oregon State would love to redshirt its quarterback recruit, Mason Moran from Chandler, Ariz. But Moran is one of only three quarterbacks on scholarship, joining junior Darell Garretson and sophomore Marcus McMaryion. Andersen said Wednesday that Moran, who will arrive at OSU in time for the start of spring ball on March 28, will be competing for the backup QB spot. The coach also said he will be looking for "a couple of walk-on quarterbacks who can come in and compete."
"Our goal is always to have four quarterbacks on scholarship," Andersen said. "I'm not worried that we have to have that before we play next fall. If it happens, it happens.
"Mason comes from a very good high school program. he's a very good athlete. He is well-schooled. He has the ability to get the ball out of his hands. He will be a threat to throw the ball and run the ball, and he's very intelligent."
Andersen identified four areas of emphasis:
"You have to have a couple of running backs. You're going to see a big-boy battle in the spring. We'll see what happens. (Recruit Artavis) Pierce will have something to say about that.
"You have to be able to rush the passer. We'll see how we can get ourselves two-deep up front on defense.
"You have to have more than one quarterback, and solid quarterback play consistently. We got ourselves in better position there.
"Our depth in the secondary is still concerning, especially at safety. We have some young players in the program I'm excited to watch how they develop in spring ball. Right now, they're too immature to be difference-makers in the Pac-12. Not in a bad way -- they just need to grow up. That's why we recruited a JC safety (Landry Payne of Pima in Tucson, Ariz.), and a very talented high school kid (Shurod Thompson of Antioch, Calif.) to come in here and compete for those spots."
Andersen, who will coach the defensive line, wants more size up front. Three of his JC recruits are D-linemen -- the 6-2, 325-pound Fangupo, 6-4, 290-pound Paisa Savea of Snow in Ephraim, Utah, and 6-5, 290-pound Phillip Napoleon from Mt. San Jacinto in Walnut, Calif.
"We needed to get bigger and stronger," Andersen said. "We had to bring in some big bodies who can play that end spot at 280 instead of 240 or 245. All three of those kids fill that need.
"We're all in on the odd front (3-4). We need to be two-deep. If we have six of them, that's great. I prefer to have eight (in the rotation). We've gotten bigger. Have we gotten better? We'll see when we put on the pads and go play other people."
Among the players who will compete to play as true freshmen are the two four-star recruits, Thompson and cornerback Christian Wallace from Sealy, Texas.
"Shurod is very gifted," Andersen said. "He'll bring leadership. With Christian, just watch the (video). It's easy to see his speed, his agility. His ability to be a next-level player is obvious. He wants to be a corner, but when you watch him with the ball in his hands (at running back in high school), it's hard to say he's not going to get a chance to carry the ball a little bit, too."
Andersen also mentioned outside linebackers Andrzej Hughes-Murray of Federal Way, Wash., and Isaac Garcia of Bellevue, Wash.
"Andrzej jumps out at me," Andersen said. "Our depth chart is unsettled at that spot. Andrzej is tough, physical, an undefeated wrestler. He has a lot of energy and juice and excitement about him."
Another one to watch: Bradford. "Trevon is a tremendous player," Andersen said. "I'm very excited about him being here for spring. I think he can come in and compete right away at receiver."
Andersen said one of his biggest frustrations was in landing only one in-state recruit.
"Oregon is the No. 1 priority for us, and it always will be," he said. "If there's a high school coach out there who doesn't think the state of Oregon is important to us, I'd like to have him sit down and tell us why he feels that way. We are going to continue to work like crazy to get kids from Oregon into our program."
Oregon State has five in-state scholarship players on its roster -- Bradford joining running back Ryan Nall and offensive lineman Blake Brandel of Central Catholic, safety Gabe Ovgard of Klamath Falls, and offensive lineman Brayden Kearsley of Aloha.
"I'd love to get the number up to the mid-20s," Andersen said. "That's where we need to be moving forward.
"I want to do better in Oregon. I'll work hard to see how I can do better, how we can do better as a staff. I'm going to ask (high school) coaches. Maybe we're doing all we can. To have just one (recruit) from the state of Oregon -- some years that's going to be acceptable, but I want more."
NOTES: This year, Oregon State had only one assistant coach, Dave Baldwin, cover Northern California. Andersen said Cory Hall will join Baldwin in that region from now on. "We need to do a better job there," Andersen said. Only one recruit will serve a two-year church mission -- tight end Riley Sharp of Salt Lake City. Fangupo, Whetzel and Pierce are among signees who have yet to qualify academically. OSU announced the addition of two preferred walk-ons who signed non-binding letters of intent -- linebackers Kiahve Dennis-Lee of Oregon City and Luke Leonnig of Eagle, Idaho. Andersen expects safety Emony Robinson of Gresham to grayshirt and enroll in school next winter term. Defensive end Titas Failauga will switch to outside linebacker in the spring.
Fangupo's coach at Kealakehe High in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Sam Papalli, praises his athletic skills. "I saw his light feet, his bounce, his acceleration, and I couldn't believe it," Papalli said. "He can dunk a basketball like it's nothing." Recruits Payne and receiver Timmy Hernandez were teammates of OSU receiver/running back Paul Lucas at Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix. And linebacker Hamilcar Rashed from Chandler, Ariz., was a youth football teammate of Lucas and a prep teammate of Moran. Savea was the star defensive player on a Snow College team that went 10-1 and was ranked No. 2 in the country. The 6-4, 225-pound Garcia, ranked the No. 2 prospect in the state of Washington by Scout, is a sprinter on his high school track team. Hughes-Murray placed third at 220 pounds as a junior in the Washington state wrestling meet and is currently ranked No. 1 in the state in that weight class. 6-4, 195-pound receiver Tyson Penn out of Bellevue, Wash., has cleared 7 feet in the high jump and has triple-jumped 49-2. 6-4, 235-pound defensive end/linebacker Kenny Turnier of Miami helped Miami Central to its fourth straight Florida state championship, with 81 tackles and 17 sacks. OSU running backs coach Telly Lockette was Miami Central's head coach from 2008-12.