Beavers secondary short on experience, long on potential

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF KARL MAASDAM - Larry Scott (second from right) has emerged as a likely starter at one of the cornerback spots for Oregon State, which returns senior corner Steven Nelson on the  side.CORVALLIS — Oregon State’s Steven Nelson is a proven commodity who could be as good as any cornerback in the Pac-12 this season.

The corner on the other side, however, will possess much more limited credentials.

With Rashaad Reynolds departed and on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster, the Beavers’ starter opposite Nelson will be largely untested.

And with starting safeties Ryan Murphy and Ty Zimmerman returning along with Nelson, the fourth member of the secondary will surely be picked on by opposing offenses this fall.

The starter in the Aug. 30 opener against Portland State is likely to be Larry Scott, no relation to the Pac-12 commissioner but blessed with much better speed in the 40.

The Beavers’ Scott, a 5-11, 190-pound junior from Corona, Calif., is finally getting his opportunity after working back from ACL surgery three years ago.

“I blew it out on the second day of practice my freshman year,” Scott says. “It’s been a life lesson for me. Now the knee is 110 percent, and I’m getting the opportunity I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”

Or, at least, since he became a highly acclaimed two-way star at Centennial High, which he helped to the CIF Division I title game as a senior.

After working his way back to health, Scott climbed into the No. 4 cornerback spot behind starters Nelson and Reynolds and top reserve Sean Martin a year ago, finishing the year with nine tackles and an interception.

Now, secondary coach Rod Perry says, “Larry’s the guy” opposite Nelson.

“He’s having a good camp,” Perry says. “He’s working hard. He’s healthy now. He had a great summer. We’re counting on him.”

“Larry’s a phenomenal athlete, with length and strength,” Nelson says.

Scott isn’t worried about providing the same kind of production the Beavers got from Reynolds a year ago.

“I try not to think of it as I’m going to replace Rashaad Reynolds,” Scott says. “I’m going to go out there and be me and be the best corner I can be and not try to live up to anyone else’s reputation.”

It was expected to be a two-way battle for the spot between Scott and Dashon Hunt. But the redshirt freshman strained a hamstring the second day of training camp and has been unable to return to full duty.

Meanwhile, senior Malcolm Marable has moved into the No. 3 cornerback spot, and true freshman Dwayne Williams has found himself running alongside Marable on the second unit.

“The rookie continues to make plays every day that everybody notices,” coach Mike Riley says of the 5-9, 170-pound native of Killeen, Texas. “This guy’s got talent.”

Perry thinks so, too.

“I’m excited about the kid,” Perry says. “He has natural cover ability. He just doesn’t know what we’re doing. But you see him, he makes a play every practice. He’s catching our eyes.”

That’s what Nelson did last year when he arrived from College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., quickly earning a starting nod and finishing in a tie for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions with six.

Now Nelson is a leader in the Beaver secondary.

“I have to step up for the young guys around me,” says the 5-11 Nelson, who has gained “10 pounds of muscle” to bulk up to 200. “I have to be more of a vocal leader, to be a guy who shows everybody what to do.”

Nelson feels very confident about the potential of the Beaver secondary.

“With me and both safeties coming back, the chemistry is great,” he says. “Boy, I think we’re going to make a lot of plays.”

Perry says he likes Nelson’s attitude coming back for his senior campaign.

“Steven is a hard worker,” Perry says. “He wants to be good. He has a lot of talent. He’s not in a comfort zone. He knows he has to get better. I’m really excited to see what he can do this year.”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @kerryeggers

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