NOTEBOOK: To redshirt, or not to redshirt

CORVALLIS – Deciding on whether to redshirt a true freshman depends on multiple factors, including positional need, player readiness and more. Will a rookie like wideout Victor Bolden, who has impressed this fall camp and drawn comparisons to a star OSU wideout back when he was a true freshman, redshirt this season? We put that question and more to WRs coach Brent Brennan.

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Mike Riley rolled out a verbal red carpet for Bolden on Tuesday. But it was Brennan, third year receivers coach at OSU, who offered some insightful nuggets on the true freshman.

BF.C asked Brennan about Bolden's chances for playing time in 2013 or if a redshirt was in the cards, how the 5-9, 165-pounder fits into the OSU scheme, if he looks to be on the same glide path as Brandin Cooks and more.

"I think we probably project him doing some of the same things we like to do with Brandin," Brennan said of Bolden. "(But) the skill sets of the guys we have are all different. So he fits a certain demographic for us that we like. He is great with the ball in his hands, he is an explosive athlete. He can change direction and he can run."

Shorter offensive receiver weapons have traditionally fit smartly in the OSU offensive playbook. James Rodgers and Markus Wheaton in recent seasons come to mind. Sammy Stroughter is 5-11 on a good day. And Cooks has thrived his first two seasons in under Brennan in the Beavs' system.

So will Bolden have his redshirt burned -- the receiver position is not only on the young side, but injuries have slowed the unit's progress in fall camp's early going.

"That's a good thought," said Brennan. "One of the reasons he is getting so many turns is because Micah (Hatfield) strained his hamstring. (Burning Bolden's redshirt) is part of the discussion."

Brennan emphasized it's still too early to tell if Bolden will play as a true freshman. He is currently holding down Hatfield's role as the No. 2 flanker behind Cooks. From this chair through eight days, he has been the standout fall camp receiver of the 2013 recruiting class.

MEANWHILE, Oregon State's split end-turned-slotback Malik Gilmore is still adjusting to his new gig. But the 6-3, 213-pound redshirt freshman has put forth strong efforts the past two days.

"(Gilmore) was doing some good stuff over at that X-position, but we weren't quite as deep at the slot as we were at the split-end," said Brennan. "(It gives Gilmore) a chance to continue to grow and improve. What is happening to him now is that he is just completely saturated mentally that we aren't getting the best picture from him right now.

"He needs to step his game up in terms of his learning, it's new and that's part of the deal. But if you want to play, you learn what to do. You didn't get to play unless you know what to do. That's where I need to see some growth from Malik."

AS FOR Mike Riley, he called Bolden exciting, fast and diligent. And he threw in "smart" for good measure.

I've been observing him since camp began and he is all of those things. But like all true freshmen, he just needs a little more seasoning. Bolden has some stark similarities to Cooks beyond what they both do out on the field -- Cooks was listed at 5-10, 181 his freshman season but he might have been closer to about 165.

Regardless of size, OSU's head man said Bolden is a good fit at Oregon State – and that's really what matters.

SPEAKING OF FIT, Riley said Beavs' nickel package has been working nicely this fall camp.

"We put it in a year ago and it was a very positive thing for (the defense)," Riley said. "I think we can maybe grow it a bit this year -- the key is getting players ready to play. (Jordan) Poyer was a pretty good nickel. But we've got Murph (Ryan Murphy) in there and he is outstanding."

WHEN PLAYERS GET injured and aren't out there cracking pads, they tend to be out of sight, out of mind. Even players as big as Garrett Weinreich, who checks in at 6-6, 311 pounds.

The redshirt freshman O-linemen continues to work to return from a nasty knee injury he suffered a year ago in fall camp. Riley said that Weinreich is still in the rehab phase and without giving a timeline, implied there's still progress to be made before he can go full throttle.

  • Kevin Cummings (hamstring) returned to the practice field on Tuesday.

  • Richard Mullaney (hip pointer) was running on Day 8 but they're having him ease into things and he wasn't sprinting at 100 percent.

    Micah Hatfield (hamstring) remained out on Tuesday.

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