Incoming Beavers preparing for OSU

TWO GEMS IN the 2005 Oregon State class, Nick Thurston and Kevin Maher, are preparing for the final high school game of their careers -- all-star contests in Fresno and Portland. Following the games this weekend and next, each will then begin finalizing plans for their arrival in Corvallis and for Thurston, a change of positions might be in the cards. For Maher, he looks to line up on defense, but not at the position some projected for him.

Schools, including OSU, were looking at Thurston as a running back his first two years at McClymonds High. He transferred to Edison High in Fresno for his senior year and was moved to linebacker. He simply flourished on the defensive side of the ball last season. Still, the Beavs are considering having the 6-1, 230-pound Thurston come barreling out of the backfield.

"I talked to (the OSU coaches) and they said I was definitely going to have to get a tryout a running back," said Thurston. "So I've been training really hard with my brother, and did some position drills at running back and hey, I didn't look too bad, I didn't feel uncomfortable. So, who knows. They said they were going to try me out at both (linebacker and running back.")

THURSTON IS OPTIMISTIC that he's set academically, but is waiting for official word. He hopes to get all the loose ends squared away soon, because he'd like to enroll for one of the summer sessions offered at Oregon State.

"I finished pretty strong with my grades," said Thurston. "So I'm just waiting on that...My goal is to get up there for summer school, to get a head start on school and also football-wise."

"Everything looks okay," he added. "But if I don't make it, hey, it would be by only a tiny little bit -- But I'm not worried about it. Because I know that things will come through for me because I've worked really hard."

TODAY, THE ALWAYS engaging Thurston participates in the 51st City/County All-Star Football Classic, the longest running all-star high school football game in California. The game features 90 senior all-star football players from high schools throughout Fresno and Madera counties and will be held at Buchanan Stadium in Clovis. Game time is 7:30PM. Thurston along with several Edison teammates have been busy practicing for the game, and Thurston's been bringing the house with him in practice.

"You didn't ask me yet about how my hittin' was going," said Thurston with a laugh. "First thing, hey, I'm bringing the heat. It feels pretty good. I'm just thankful to be blessed."

"It just feels good to get back on the field," he added. "Football is the greatest game in the world."

Nick Thurston profile

MAHER WAS NAMED Oregon's Offensive player of the year last season while at Lake Oswego High, catching 62 passes for 1,156 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was first team all-state, all-league on both sides of the ball as a receiver and defensive back, where he snared 8 interceptions.

There was some speculation Maher (6-2 1/2, 210) would project at linebacker for OSU, but he says his spot will be a bit deeper in the defensive backfield.

"I'm going to be at strong safety," said Maher. "I feel great about that."

Maher said he's all set academically, having achieved a qualifying score on the SAT and graduated from high school. He'll be arriving in Corvallis around the end of July.

On June 26, Maher will suit up for the North team in the Les Schwab Bowl, formerly the Oregon Bowl. The contest pits the top-graduating seniors from around the state, with kickoff slated for 7pm at PGE Park in Portland. Steve Coury, Maher's prep coach at Lake Oswego, will direct the North squad.

"I'm looking forward to it, I can't wait," he said.

Kevin Maher profile

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