Insights Heading into Fall Camp

Speaking with many of the beaver faithful there seems to be a consensus of guarded optimism heading into fall camp. Not many are willing to go out publicly and predict a Pac 10 championship or even a BCS bowl appearance. However, there is that little voice in the back of our collective heads that says "we can win it all!" Not just the Pac 10 title but the Sugar bowl as well.

Certainly there is reason for optimism. The best running back in the nation not named Clarett, an offensive line that returns nearly all of it's starters and both size and speed in the receiving corps that figures to give Coach Riley one of the most potent attacks in the nation. Oh, by the way, did I mention a 6'6 quarterback that can make all the throws and has 13 starts under his belt? Yea, he is pretty good as well!  

After reviewing the spring game several times I have put together a list of 10 key players to keep an eye on in fall camp: 

 

  1. Brandon Lockheart: At 6'6 and 343 pounds Lockheart has an ability to collapse an entire side of a defensive line like no other player on the roster. Playing for both the white and black squads Lockhart was able to handle everyone he faced rather easily. From the speed of Brandon Scales to the girth of Dan Rothwell, "the big fella" was up to the task! Look for Lockheart to join Kanan Sanchez on the right side of the line to form a dominant presence.
     
  2. Harvey Whiten: Any questions as to whether Harvey has recovered from his knee surgery were answered in the spring game. Not only was he the best player for either side but he showed his versatility in playing both strong safety and weak side linebacker. Interception, touchdown, fumble recovery, sack and oh by the way did you see the hit he put on Tim Euhus? Whiten can flat out play! Coach Riley will find a way to get him on the field and keep him on the field. Look for Whiten to line up at linebacker in passing situations.

    George Gillett needs to step up with the departure of Travis Brown and Jayson Boyd.
     
  3. 5. George Gillett: With the loss of both Jason Boyd and Travis Brown all eyes need to be focused on Gillette. Now more than ever it is imperative that George lives up to his potential. His ability to run great routes and get open has kept him at the top of the depth chart. His inconsistency in catching the ball has prevented him from becoming a fixture on the starting offense. George has all the tools to be great but he needs to become a consistent play maker in order to take some heat off of James Newson.
     
  4. 6. Sir Henry Anderson: Sir Henry brings an element of speed to the middle of the defensive line that the Beavers have not had in quite a few years. Although Sir Henry will split time with Alvin Smith, look for him to excel in passing situations. 8+ sacks this year is not out of the question!
     
  5. 7. Brandon Browner: At 6'4 and 193 pounds Browner has the size and strength to shut down the bigger receivers in the Pac 10. Although a bit raw, Browner hits like a truck (just ask Colt Charles) and has the speed and athletic ability to make up for his youthful mistakes. Look for Browner to establish himself as a lockdown corner and the future of the Beavers defensive backs.
     
  6. Trent Bray: Look up the definition of linebacker in the dictionary and you will find a picture of Bray. Trent had a break out spring game and has established himself as the future of the Beaver linebackers. Tough and gritty, Bray finished the spring game with 10 tackles, two interceptions and a sack. Bray will not only be a key contributor on special teams but will also enjoy a significant role in the defensive scheme.
     
  7. Ryan Cole: At 6'0 and 218 pounds Cole was the one player that I watched with the greatest anticipation. I must say he did not disappoint. Ryan runs extremely hard and hits the hole fast! I truly hope that we do not see him as a starter until his junior year but I dare say he may be replacing the best Beaver running back ever as soon as next year. In the meantime look for Cole to play a significant role on both special teams and in short yardage situations.

    Jayson Fyda is impressing coaches, fans, and opponents with his athleticism.

     
  8. Jason Fyda: Fyda has already climbed the depth chart to put David Lose in the back up roll. His speed, athleticism and work ethic seem to fit well into coach Riley's system. Jason is an animal in the weight room and has a freakish vertical jump for a man his size (6'3/283lbs with a 33 inch vertical). Look for Fyda to emerge as a leader on the offensive line.
     
  9. Jayson Jean-Baptiste: JJB has the speed and athleticism to make up for his lack of size at the defensive end position. Jayson had a solid spring game and is an excellent pass rusher. He will once again play a significant role in our defensive scheme and I look for him to push Rothwell for the starting job in fall camp.
     
  10. Ryan Gunderson: Surprise! I haven't seen Ryan play a down of college ball but I have seen him in high school and he is that good!! At 6'5 and 220 pounds Ryan can make all the throws with authority. Ryan has spent the summer traveling to Corvallis and studying the playbook. He is extremely intelligent and self confident. Look for Ryan to climb the depth chart and challenge Adam Rothenfluh for the #2 position. If Derek Anderson stays healthy all year expect Coach Riley to redshirt Gunderson.

 

There is no question in my mind that Coach Riley will enjoy the deepest and most talented roster in the history of the Beaver football program. With that in mind winning the Pac 10 title will not be an easy task. The emergence or lack of emergence from any or all of these ten players could have a significant impact on the ultimate success of the 2003 campaign!  


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