CAMP: Putting D developments into context

THERE'S A LOT of information to digest each day coming out of Corvallis, with fall camp now running at full pitch. Due to the rock-solid reporting of BF.C's Warner Strausbaugh and Grady Garrett, here's some of the notable developments to date on defense ...

DE Taylor Henry dealt with speed and strength robbing injuries last season and there were question marks aplenty at the d-end spot headed into 2011, so much so OSU went wholesale shopping at the junior college mart at defensive end this offseason. With Dominic Glover moving inside this season, fans even wondered if prep standout Dylan Wynn could claim a starting job, despite being just a true frosh.

Well, Henry looks healed, has gained about 10 pounds and has held down one starting defensive end spot throughout camp's early going -- and redshirt freshman Scott Crichton has a lock on the other. It doesn't mean players like Rusty Fernando and Blake Harrah won't make key contributions this season, and d-line coach Joe Seumalo is adamant nothing is yet settled up front on the d-line, as coaches wanting heightened competition are wont to do.

But Henry and Crichton don't look to be giving up their starting gigs anytime soon, not based on the early returns.

DT Dominic Glover was slowed in the early going with Mike Riley saying he had academic issues to clear up. The Beavs need him, (and he's been getting more and more turns of late), with Andrew Seumalo also getting lots of work.

The question remains if Castro Masaniai, now that he's returned from offseason troubles (suspended for opener), will be one of the starters headed into Wisconsin. Kevin Frahm looks like the other starting d-tackle given how camp has played out so far.

Another question is if the combination of the four can yield a true, solid Pac-12 level rotation at d-tackle this season. With OSU undersized here, it seems a good bet Oregon State would very much like to see all four be able to play significant turns and win battles.

Since moving over to middle linebacker, Feti Unga has looked fairly sharp. Michael Doctor looks to be the firm starter at WIL, and D.J. Welch has gotten some time with the first unit when Doctor has been given a rest and looks like a capable backup.

The strongside spot is waiting for Cameron Collins once he's 100 percent, slowly returning to full speed from abdominal surgery, but the bigger picture is that along with Rueben Robinson and Tony Wilson, long considered starting candidates this offseason, there could be a solid rotation at linebacker without the usual level of dropoff when the 2s come in. And Mark Banker loves to rotate.

In the defensive backfield, Lance Mitchell starting at safety is a given. Anthony Watkins has solidified his spot in the early going as the other safety running with the 1s. Brandon Hardin and Jordan Poyer are also on lockdown at the corner positions.

But safety at OSU in 2011 is not deep, and freshman wide receiver Tyrequek Zimmerman moved over and practiced at safety Monday for the first time. True freshman Peter Ashton is also no longer a quarterback -- he too has moved to safety, by his own request. He could be a key special teams performer as early as this year with the move.

And the DBs have been getting banged up in fall camp's early going. True freshman CB Larry Scott looks like the only long term casualty, he will have season-ending surgery, but LCB Sean Martin hit his head hard on the turf in practice, and caution dictates it could be several days before he returns.

Meanwhile, Mitchell (groin), CB Brandon Hardin (shoulder), CB Rashaad Reynolds (knee) and S Ryan Murphy (groin) have all missed time, though none of those injuries should be long term. Still, they're a concern.

One other note -- Reynolds, a sophomore, has been looking like he could grab a starting kick returner job alongside Poyer.

The first official fall camp scrimmage is scheduled for Thursday. Meanwhile, check back later tonight for our report on Tuesday's practice session.

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