The Beavers most talented safety Mitch Meeuwsen sat out the entire month of April. The All-American player is recovering from knee surgery that was performed in the off-season.
Taking his place with the first team was Sabby Piscitelli, a 6-3, 209 freshman from Florida. Piscitelli was impressive in his Beaver debut as he showcased the skills to become an All-Pac-10 defender.
The hard-hitting safety is perhaps the fastest out of the six safeties. From the start, Piscitelli fit well with the rest of the defensive unit. He has a killer instinct and rivals Richard Seigler with his mouth.
Seigler and Piscitelli exhibited excellent communication skills on and off the field. It is a good sign to see a freshman involved with the leader of the defense and perhaps the team. Although Piscitelli will not start for the Beavers, he is too good of a player top keep off the field.
Sabby Piscitelli played in place of the injured Mitch Meeuwsen, impressing the coaches.
Meeuwsen will have added incentive to work hard on and off the field with a capable backup behind him. Look for Piscitelli to have an immediate impact on special teams with his cocky attitude and the ability to deliver a game-changing hit.
The Beavers other starter will be the dependable Lawrence Turner. Turner returns after intercepting four passes, good for second on the team, and making 60 tackles, good for third on the team in 12 games.
The 5-11, 194-pound player does not make spectacular plays, but is very knowledgeable of the coverages and serves as a leader for the backfield. Turner does not posses the ability to make the big hit but is a solid tackler.
Following Turner is a 6-3, 214-pound freshman who has Beaver Nation very excited. Harvey Whiten impressed coaches and fans alike with his footwork and quickness. Whiten has the chance to become an All-Pac-10 player with his blend of speed and hard-hitting ability.
Lawreence Turner and Harvey Whiten hope to deliever some big hits in 2003.
Whiten showed glimpses of his ability when he picked off two passes in the spring game, including a 43-yard pick for a touchdown.
Whiten is still learning the system, but caught on quickly during the 15 days. The Compton native will have a great career at OSU and is also too good of a player to keep of the field.
Keeping with Mike Riley’s philosophy of putting the best players on special teams, Whiten should see some time on kick and punt coverages.
With Whiten and Piscitelli roaming the field during kickoffs and punts Beaver fans are sure to be treated to some big hits, in the mold of Darnell Robinson laying out Michael Fletcher in the 1998 Civil War.
Brandon Catanese fell to third on the depth chart with emergence of Piscitelli and Whiten. The 5-11, 202-pound back posses the speed to play the corner position and worked with the cornerbacks for a good part of spring.
Catanese has an uphill battle receive playing time, but should contribute on special teams as a coverage or possibly a return man.
Brandon Cobb rounds out the safeties for the Beavers in 2003. Cobb began practicing with the safeties after getting his grades in order. Missing the first half month of practice noticeably hurt Cobb as he struggled to learn the system.
Cobb is undersized and has an uphill battle to receive playing time.
BeaverFootball.com’s Safety Rankings
1. Mitch Meeuwsen, Junior (6-3, 210) – All-American caliber player who has quick feet and a nose for the ball.
2. Lawrence Turner, Senior (5-11, 194) – solid defender with good football instincts, will not make the big play, but very dependable, very knowledgeable of the coverage’s.
3. Sabby Piscitelli, Freshman (6-3, 209) – physical, extremely fast athlete who has the skills to become an All-Pac-10 player, loves to hit and talk, great killer instinct
4. Harvey Whiten, Sophomore (6-3, 214) – an up and coming sophomore with good footwork and football knowledge, has the physical tools to deliver punishing hits.
5. Brandon Catanese, Senior (5-11, 202) – decent back with the speed to play with the cornerbacks, solid and in the same mold as Turner
6. Brandon Cobb, Freshman (5-9, 180) – sat out the first half of spring practice, a little undersized, but learning the system.