DT duo could determine much for Beavs

ONE OF THE biggest storylines this spring session at Oregon State is found on defense, where the Beavs lose nine starters off a unit that ran hot and cold in 2014. So many things on defense are dependent on the guys up front, and two names immediately come to mind when it comes to the tipping point on how the Beaver D shapes up this spring and for the 2015 season.

They are both d-tackles -- Jalen Grimble and Kyle Peko.

Grimble was just starting to round into form last year when a USC o-lineman dived at his knees and sidelined him for the next six games. While he came back at year's end, he was still dealing with the after effects of the injury.

Grimble, if he can stay healthy, has all the tools in order to become a difference maker. In the year that he sat out the season but still practiced after transferring from Miami, he was regularly the d-line standout up front and big things were expected of him last season.

The injury in Week 4 ensured that wouldn't happen. The 6-2, 291-pounder will be a senior this coming season so it's his last rodeo to make something happen.

Meanwhile, Peko will also be a senior but has yet to qualify. It's seemingly been forever that Beaver fans have heard he's "almost there" since Peko was to arrive at OSU with the 2013 recruiting class with three to play two.

He was allowed to practice roughly the first half of last season before he reportedly failed an online psychology class that would have made him eligible starting with the Utah game.

Assuming he is able to qualify before the seasons begins, how much the 6-1, 306-pounder can be expected to produce is up in the air - after all he hasn't played in a football game since 2012.

But even if he is a contributing player in rotation, that could be enough to help solidify a d-line with a lot of unknowns in the middle.

If OSU can shore up the interior, veteran d-ends Lavonte Barnett and Jaswha James could do some damage.

Both are underrated and haven't had the benefit of playing alongside space-eating DTs. If they can be freed up, they could make more noise than the pundits might envision.

And Luke Hollingsworth could surprise some people this season as well. All three DEs are listed in the 262-270-pound range on the spring roster.

The Beavers resume spring ball on Tuesday after a two-week break to accommodate finals and the school's spring break. The annual spring game will be held April 18 at Reser Stadium.

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