MIKE RILEY TALKS SIGNING DAY

A VERY BUSY and exciting morning and early afternoon at the Valley Football Center "War Room" was topped off by a press conference with Beavers Head Coach, Mike Riley. As you would expect, Riley was excited and hopeful for the 2011 recruiting class. Here is a lengthy rundown of bullet points recapping his thoughts/remarks….

Mike Riley pointed out that since last year, the Beavers have added 31 new names to the roster---including grayshirts—although some of these players will need to get qualified and certified.

• Summing up the Class of 2011, Riley feels the Beavers hit the mark on the areas that needed addressing noting that OSU went very heavy in the d-line. Feels that this is a great looking group of guys and is very excited that they were able to bring in a bunch of quality players to address that need.

• Riley noted that an area where OSU was able to recruit a lot of playmakers who will impact the program was wide receiver. Lots of athleticism and production from these guys that should translate to success at this level, he said.

• Felt that running back was an important area to address (especially with Jacquizz Rodgers leaving for the NFL) and is thrilled with both Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods. Both these guys add great competition to the position as well as add good depth.

• He felt he got his placekicker in grayshirt Trevor Romaine as well as his QB in Peter Ashton. In addition a corner (Larry Scott) as well as a couple of really athletic linebackers (Jabral Johnson and Lavonte Bennett).

• When asked about who will have immediate impact as true freshmen, Riley would not be specific. Particularly with the WR signees, Riley said that any one of the recruits could be in the mix for playing time but won't really know until fall camp as to which true freshmen may have an impact. He pointed out that with 9 guys recruited for the d-line, probably one or two will have the ability to step up and play. Pointed out that OT Darryl Jackson and DE Dylan Wynn may also be ready to go this Fall.

• Looking at specific players and needs, Riley focused on the WRs, pointing out their overall productivity and athleticism and calling them a "great group of receivers":

o Brandin Cooks: Noted that he is an overall exciting football player; natural flanker; can run the fly sweep as well as go deep and catch the ball
o Mullaney: Very productive athlete noting his 122 catches last season; production and athleticism are his strengths
o Tyrequek Zimmerman: Called him a "great receiver"; played both ways in high school (Riley "loves" guys who play both ways and are athletic)

• Looking at the RBs, Riley noted that both Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods have "very high football IQs" which is critical for being a RB in OSU's system. Feels OSU lucked out with Agnew since a lot of programs did not look at him since he injured his hamstring in his junior year so was able to fly under the radar. Called Woods a "gym rat" who is a great all-around athlete—very competitive and versatile. Notes that both backs can run and catch the ball well and says that both Woods and Agnew should have an "easy transition" to the next level.

• As for QB Peter Ashton, Riley says that on the surface he appears to be a spread QB and runner. If that was all he was, Riley said that they would not have recruited him. When he came to camp and threw for the coaches, Riley and team were able to see his athleticism, his strong arm, and his accuracy. He has "great feet and is a very versatile guy". If he was not going to play QB for the Beavers (which Riley says he is), Riley would see him as a safety.

Noa Aluesi will not count against this class. Projected as a TE or DE, he will start in the Bridge program this summer and then leave for his two-year Mormon mission before returning to OSU in 2013.

• On Dylan Wynn, Riley notes that "this guy is talented" and has "the highest motor we have ever seen". Points out that he is from a great program in California (De LaSalle) and was thankful that Wynn was an early commit. Riley also says that Wynn is "fun to watch" and a "bonafide competitor to play early".

• Riley was also excited about adding Justin Addie and Darryl Jackson to the o-line mix. Calling Jackson an "agile 330 lbs.", Riley anticipates that with Spring practice and Summer workouts, the "big athlete" will "move right into the mix for competiton" at OT.

• One of the recruits who has some work to do and is "late to the program" -- d'Vante Henry. Riley concedes that Henry has some work to do and is not ready academically yet, but his coach and principal are working with him to get him qualified. Henry is a "terrific athlete" who the Beavs heard about late, but once they saw his film and talked to him and those around him, felt he was right for us. He is a bonafide rushing DE, notes Riley, though he will need to add weight (6-5, 192). He can gain weight and he can run and make plays, Riley said, and with his speed and production, Riley feels he will be "an exciting player for us".

• Riley is also high on Na'Alii Robins. Looking at the DLine prospects, Riley feels that Robins is further along physically than most of the candidates and is already sporting a "thicker build". Riley pointed out that Robins is another quality get from Hawaii who he says he is proud to get from that state.

• For those wondering where Akeem Gonzales will be playing, Riley said that while Gonzales can play both ways, his "body looks like that of a defensive lineman". Even though there may be a fight between the Offensive and Defensive coaches, Riley joked that Akeem will be "defense first".

• While there has been a lot of anticipation surrounding Kellen Clute at TE, Riley projects him as an Hback. He is "an athletic, pass-receiving Hback or Slot back.

• Riley also hinted at the possibility of finding some additional preferred walk-on candidates. Noting that historically roughly a third of the team hails from the State of Oregon (just the way it has worked out), Riley gave props to assistant Jay Locey at identifying quality, local talent that often is never offered or recruited. "You never know who will be the next Mike Remmers or Mike Hass".

• Riley admitted to being somewhat disappointed—particularly with a couple of guys who appeared to be committed to the Beavers but did not sign LOIs. Riley didn't name names but Todd Peat, Torian White and Rahmel Dockery were amont those that went down to the wire that the Beavs missed out on Wednesday. Indeed, Riley pointed out that "there were more guys up in the air today than I have ever seen." That said, Riley shared that when you stop and look at OSU's numbers—how they covered their bases—that they are "probably" at the right number to get to 85 scholarships on opening day. He noted that OSU is "probably a hair over" but that the numbers are very manageable. "Our number is about right," he says.

• On "poaching" players or soliciting decommits, Riley stressed that the Beavers "don't solicit decommits", but work very hard and are competitive when it comes to recruits. There comes a point where you "just need to leave the kid alone". However, if a kid reaches out like Jabral Johnson did, Riley said, then they will open up the conversation (Johnson approached Riley on a visit the staff was taking to Oklahoma to see Tyrequek Zimmerman).

• Riley is not fond of early commitments because he feels that if a kid commits too early, they have not had the time to develop and do their own research on the team, the coaches and the school that they are considering. That is why there are a lot of decommits and poaching that goes on. "Unless absolutely sure, they should not commit," states Riley. "I would like to see more time for kids to make their decisions. Unfortunately that is not the way the system plays out."

• On his involvement in the recruiting process, Riley said that out of all of these guys, he was in every house but one—and that was due to a cancelled flight. He sees his role as "mostly to confirm and solidify" commitments—not to be "a closer" (a term he does not like). He noted that this is a fun time of year for him where he gets to meet the people around the athlete—parents, family, coaches, principals. He notes that he wants to talk to the family to let them know that he understands that he is taking their son at a unique point in his life and that he wants to talk about their son and his future. It is more of a visit about life than football. Riley says that at OSU, the program for a parent's son is one of overall development and he wants to let them know that "this is our plan for their son".


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