Five Beavs ready to make an impact

CORVALLIS – There's a lot of bowl talk to come surrounding the Beavers but BF.C wanted to start the week by looking even further into the future. OSU has a bevy of young talent who could make an impact next season and after watching practice, talking with coaches and analyzing it all, here are our picks for the five who should have Beaver fans excited about the big picture.

Wide Receiver Hunter Jarmon – 5-10, 200 (FR)
  • Jarmon is a very versatile ball player who could almost play just about anywhere with the exception of the D-line and O-line. The freshman receiver made an impact during 2013 as a member of the scout team, and I see him playing a much larger role in the offensive schemes next year. A larger role could mean one of two things.

    First, Jarmon could start earning practice reps with the 1's and 2's this spring, helping to alleviate some of the depth concerns with the graduations of Kevin Cummings, Micah Hatfield and Mitch Singler. He is smart, talented and displayed enough of a go-get-em' mentality in '13 to impress. A solid run of next year's spring ball and fall camp could make all the difference in the world for the young wideout.

    Second, especially if Brandon Cooks comes back, Jarmon may instead benefit more by gaining experience slowly but surely behind guys like Cooks, Richard Mullaney and others.

    By my take was this: Jarmon was no slouch to cover for junior safeties Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy, and more than once I saw him give junior corner Steven Nelson a run for his money.

    Bottom line, Jarmon's physical skills are quite impressive.

    Cornerback Dashon Hunt – 5-8, 189 (FR)
  • If the freshman continues along the path he walked as a member of the practice squad in 2013, he is on pace to put up some stout competition as seniors Sean Martin and Rashaad Reynolds are soon to complete their senior seasons.

    Hunt is a very alert ball player with solid speed off the snap and good closing speed in the open field. However, the thing that struck me the most about the freshman had little to do with his physical characteristics.. It had everything to do with his confidence.

    In a sport where trusting oneself to make a play is just as important as being physically capable of making said play, Hunt swims in a sea of confidence hard to ignore. Perhaps Hunt exudes poise because he learned rather quickly the lessons of secondary coach Rod Perry, or maybe he understands that he has a very real shot at playing time come ‘14.

    Whatever it was, Hunt was one of the first youngsters to start making noise during fall camp, and he continued to shine throughout practice during the 2013 regular season.

    Steven Nelson will have one of the corner spots locked down. Hunt would likely have to beat out corner and junior-to-be Larry Scott for the other spot and/or the nickel corner job, and I feel like he has every chance of seeing time, probably at the nickel, and I imagine he will have an impact on special teams as well, possibly as a gunner.

    But there's a potential downside. Height doesn't mean everything for a corner but it does count. Hunt at 5-8 is three and four inches shorter than Rashaad Reynolds and Jordan Poyer, respectively. And the question remains as to whether or not Hunt can be effective against taller receivers on game day, something that should see more clarity as we get into spring ball and fall camp.

    Running Back Damien Haskins – 5-8, 223 (FR)
  • Haskins has the potential to go far within the OSU football program, especially with Mike Riley saying recently he wants his team to step things up with the ground game.

    Haskins is a one-cut, powerful back that hits holes with authority and bounces off tackles. He could be that guy who has every opportunity to be tank in a conference full of Jeeps, and he put in good work with the scout team in 2013.

    There are still significant obstacles standing in the way of Haskins seeing game time – he'll be the fourth option behind Storm Woods, Terron Ward and a burgeoning Chris Brown heading into the spring. In addition, Haskins may still have a few humps to get over with his receiving game and ability to hold onto the football under pressure.

    But I liked what I saw of his scout team work. And I do see Haskins potentially playing a major role on special teams, in a similar fashion to junior fullback Tyler Anderson. Haskins is strong, has fair speed and should possess enough field awareness to set some great blocks for whoever is slated to return kicks next season. Allocating a spot on the special teams to Haskins could further prove beneficial down the road.

    Quarterback Brent Vanderveen - 6-4, 210 (RFr.)
  • Say hello to the new No. 2?

    Evaluating a scout team quarterback is always tough because so much of the time they throw off a card – they're there to help the defense get ready, not check down and make plays. But since spring camp 2013, Vanderveen went from wobbly passes to strong, accurate throws as the third-string QB behind junior Sean Mannion and senior Cody Vaz.

    With Vaz graduating, and freshman Kyle Kempt still learning the ropes, Vanderveen is poised in my view to make a strong try at No. 2 -- and that means he'd be one play away from live action.

    The new No. 2 for the Beavs will get more of a chance to get in rhythm with guys like sophomore wideout Richard Mullaney and a developing Malik Gilmore – not to mention freshman Victor Bolden, who is primed to be the second-string flanker behind Cooks, or a starter if Cooks leaves early for the NFL.

    Vanderveen can also make an impact with his legs just as much as his arm, which could really change the scope of some OSU offensive strategies moving forward. I don't recall seeing the freshman run much in practice over the last two seasons, but again, a scout team QB isn't necessarily playing his game in practice.

    Schools get only so many practice hours in a week and the youth are often the ones by necessity who get the least turns. Vanderveen moving to No. 2 would jumpstart that a bit and would give the Beavs a more agile, less pocket oriented passer than was the case with Mannion/Vaz in '13.

    Wide Receiver Jordan Villamin - 6-4, 242 (Fr.)
  • He didn't practice once all season long, how the heck can he be on this list?

    Villamin was a partial qualifier this past season and wasn't allowed to practice. So he will have lots of rush to shake off.

    But he's that rare, big wide receiver who can physically break the press and cause nightmares for opposing defenses.

    According to a recent article in the Portland Tribune, "insiders" at Oregon State say he's a physical freak of nature who has future star written all over him.

    He's attended classes this term and remains on scholarship at Oregon State and as long as he takes care of business in the classroom, he'll be able to get after it on the gridiron this spring. And if the prognosticators inside the Beaver program are right, he could end up being the talk of spring ball.

    Honorable Mention:
    If Sean Harlow had redshirted, he would have been on this list but with Harlow pressed into duty, it was tough to find a young o-lineman doing duty on the scout team over the course of this season who looked like he was ready to emerge.

    That said...

    O-lineman Nolan Hansen 6-6, 278
  • Should Oregon State decide to mix things up a bit on the offensive line in order to compensate for the three seniors (Michael Philipp, Josh Andrews and Grant Enger) that will no longer be Beavs after the Hawaii Bowl, redshirt freshman O-lineman Nolan Hansen may have a shot to move up.

    My notes have Hansen as a blocker with average size for a tackle and decent foot speed. He performed well with the scout team in 2013, occasionally making big holes for Haskins and senior scout team tailback Jovan Stevenson.

    Also, should Hansen prove capable of putting together a solid offseason and spring camp where he develops his awareness of outside blitz packages while gaining confidence enough to become a little bit more aggressive, he could round into form quite nicely – but that's also a lot of what if's.

    Hansen will need to pack on the muscle. But keep an eye on him. While, based on the evidence currently in hand, I don't see him as a player that will step in and make an immediate, program-changing impact, he is the type of player who would both physically and mentally benefit from an offseason full of lifting and film study, potentially making him a sleeper on the o-line moving forward.

  • BeaverBlitz Top Stories