Ask the Insiders: A heavy favorite at MIK?

OREGON STATE DOESN'T lose a whole lot of starters to graduation for the 2013 campaign but one spot they'll need to fill is at middle linebacker. But will it really be much of a position battle there… ?

Luther: Two of the three linebacker positions seem to be pretty well sewn-up with D.J. Alexander and Michael Doctor both returning.

Given the rotation last year Joel Skotte would seem to be a virtual shoo-in to start at MLB – who do you see filling into the rotation next season?

Wilson-McGrath: I'm not generally one to count his chickens before they hatch, but Joel Skotte as the MIK, hands down. Bray was practically grooming him to take over for Unga during the tail end of fall camp and parts of the regular season.

Another safe bet in my mind is Shaydon Akuna, who could essentially play the role of handyman for the ‘backer corps. Beaver Nation has been waiting for him to emerge since he arrived as a highly touted commitment.

He has the size to be effective in blitz packages off the weak side, the awareness to manipulate screens and short routes into the flat/ plug up lanes as the MIK, and decent enough speed.

I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say keep an eyeball on Jaswha James too. He is an impressive raw talent.

Luther: Another diamond in the rough type who came from Pago Pago along with Tago was Rommel Mageo. What did you see of him last fall during his redshirt season?

Wilson-McGrath: Mageo fits into the same class as James – keep an eye on him. Both have the potential to see a few snaps on game days.

While Mageo was not hugely impressive day in and day out, he was one of the few guys Trent Bray commended more often than reprimanded.

Mageo learns his assignments very quickly, and has a knack for making effective on field adjustments to compensate for other ‘backers being slightly out of position.

He is also one of the faster guys holding it down on the LB squad.

Luther: I feel a little guilty that we haven't paid any lip service to OSU's excellent safety tandem with Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy, but it doesn't feel like there are a lot of questions to ask about them, they're studs.

But in the interest of equal coverage, who are the guys playing safety on the scout team and second team that stood out to you?

Wilson-McGrath: Peter Ashton and Micah Audis both deserve more ink than they have been given.

Ashton in particular garnered my interest throughout fall camp and the regular season, mostly because I could tell he was resisting the urge to completely demolish his assignments in practice.

I mean that in the best way possible – he is aggressive and likes to piss off wide receivers.

I say that if you are looking for the next Keaton Kristick-type, albeit at safety rather than linebacker, look no further than Ashton.


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