Ask the Insiders: What's story on RBs, TEs?

IT'S BEEN A couple years since Oregon State had a headliner starting at running back. Will the 2013 season see a change in that regard? What about the tight ends/h-backs? Insiders Chad Luther and Drew Wilson-McGrath tackle that and more…

Luther: OSU experienced a RB by committee approach last season. A lot of fans wondered quietly if the hype about Storm Woods was legitimate, musing that he would sit behind Malcolm Agnew who played as a true freshman while Woods redshirted. Does Chris Brown appear to you like he is poised to bowl into the lineup after redshirting in 2012?

Wilson-McGrath: Good question. And a tough question. Brown = tremendous vertical speed, above average agility with some nasty to him when it comes to slipping through tackles. Yet Brown also = poor carrying ability and less than satisfactory blocking potential on four/five step drops by the quarterback.

The first con is the most important to consider, because OSU tailback's didn't fumble often in 2012, and I guarantee you Mike Riley doesn't want to start now. Brown might squeeze into special teams in some fashion – but he rests behind three capable athletes, two of whom are juniors come 2013.

OSU has at least two more years of more capable guys (specifically Woods and Ward) running the rock – Brown is going to have to scratch his way to the top.

Luther: Speaking of scratching to the top, looks like there is a real battle going on for playing time at tight end. I can't remember the last time OSU had a group of tight ends this imposing in terms of stature. Although it was Caleb Smith that had the buzz around him, Connor Hamlett was a bigger offensive weapon. What kind of growth did you see out of the tight ends while watching practice over the year?

Wilson-McGrath: Nice to hear someone speaking my language. Hamlett, Smith and Colby Prince acquired 558 yards and 52 receptions collectively (2012).

Big whoop right? Right. So here is the real story. Riley was NOT happy with his tight ends at the beginning of the fall, and his outlook improved only slightly at the beginning of the season. Hell, I don't think many people were exactly thrilled with the TE guys. On the whole they were an unimpressive bunch, even with the addition of Smith.

Talented young blood establishes the illusion of stability for many fans - Smith got all that buzz because many folks (myself included) were laboring under the delusion that sans Joe Halahuni, the Beavs were totally screwed at the TE slot for 2012. And why not assume as much – Halahuni was a tough act to follow.

Frankly, Prince was no great shakes at the position, and Hamlett hadn't quite crawled out of the woodwork until the latter stages of fall camp, when he outplayed Smith for the role of H-Back. His spot was solidified behind Prince, and he maintained this role almost exclusively in 2012, despite the fact that the sophomore later proved to be a more capable target than the No.1. We call this a revelation, and I feel like all of Beaver Nation shared in part of this revelation after Hamlett's go-ahead against ‘Zona.

Basically, I saw improvement beyond the scope of what last season's statistics can indicate - beyond on-field growth or physical development. When Riley was all "aw-shucks, gosh darn it fellers" about his tight end's in the fall, they kicked their butts into high gear and made themselves into what will be a really dynamic duo (Hamlett and Smith) with some younger talent floating in the wings (Kellen Clute, Dustin Stanton) in 2013.

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