IN FOCUS: Tight End

AMONG THE MORE well defined aspects of the Oregon State offense the past three seasons has been tight end. But like many other areas, there are questions there this offseason, too.

And they mostly center around Joe Halahuni's surgically repaired shoulder.

Will Halahuni be completely healed before the opener? Mike Riley has said it could be a month after the season begins that Halahuni is ready to play in a game.

Not good news.

Oregon State has both talent and potential at the tight end and h-back spots, but it's a stretch to say they wouldn't miss Halahuni, who is a viable candidate to play on Sundays next year.

Halahuni was just starting to emerge this spring when his shoulder, at varying degrees bothering him for some time, finally got to the point he was shut down.

With James Rodgers also a question mark for the opener, and with Quizz Rodgers gone to the NFL, the tight end spot figured to see more action and particularly on critical third down plays. Halahuni's injury unsettles those plans.

And so getting more reps in the spring's latter half were Colby Prince, Connor Hamlett and Tyler Perry.

The best news for the Beavs was that the blocking by the group was good this spring. Prince, the most experienced and expected to line up as the starter in fall camp, was consistent in that regard, they all looked consistent.

Hamlett and Perry are waiting in the wings and they stepped up their play in Halahuni's absence, indicating they might be ready to contribute more sooner rather than later.

Prince was getting more reps as the spring went along and in the final spring scrimmage, he played well.

The star of the spring finale though was Hamlett, who hauled in double digit catches.

The fact it was a scrimmage and not a spring game due to the legion of injuries across the board augurs against taking away too much from any of the performances. But Hamlett certainly did look good out there.

And it's not as if it's the first time he's drawn attention.

Hamlett has always been a good blocker, something he proved during his time on the scout team last year. Showing he also has some hands and good route running skills might mean he's ready to contribute, and both with and without Halahuni on the field.

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