It was another great year for Oregon State recruiting. While it is likely that the Beavers will end up ranked by most recruiting services near the bottom of the list in the Pac-10, it is important to realize that Dennis Erickson and staff have been signing players that in the past would never even considered attending Oregon State. The biggest recruits in this year's class are probably Joe Newton (a tight end from Roseburg), James Finley (a wide receiver from Los Angeles), and Brandon Lockheart (an offensive lineman from Santa Monica College with two years of eligibility left).
Newton was highly sought after. He was easily the top high school prospect in the State of Oregon last year. He is said to be extremely quick, with good hands. He is likely going to receive favorable comparisons with former Washington tight end Jerramy Stevens, who gave up his senior year to enter the NFL draft. Finley is extremely quick and is likely to redshirt because of the deep receiving corps the Beavers return in 2002. That will surely be one of the strong points next season. Jason Boyd has been proclaimed as the star of the scout team in 2001. Josh Hawkins played well in limited time during the 2001 season, including a key catch in the Civil War on a bullet from Jonathon Smith. Brandon Lockheart is likely to fill one of the two empty slots on the offensive line. He is extremely quick for his size (6'7", 330).
While there was not much of a drop off from last year's recruiting due to the disappointing 2001 season, I would expect it to be more difficult to get preliminary interest from this year's high school juniors, which could result in a down year next year. It is important to remember that a down year next year would still be miles and miles ahead of any recruiting class before 1999. However, if the Beavers win 8-9 games this year, they should be able to compete very well for the years to come. The competition in the conference has been intense to say the least and it should continue.
Congratulations to Albert Toeiaina in making his decision on where to go to college. It was a long and hard decision for him to make, and I wish him well in his career at Oregon. He has received lots of unfair criticism from Beaver fans over the past month for choosing to attend the University of Oregon, after verbally committing to Oregon State. When Beaver fans make stupid claims like "I wonder what kind of car Mom Toeainia got from Mike Bellotti," it only reflects poorly on Oregon State, the football team, and all the Beaver fans. Different schools are better fits for different people. He felt he would be a better fit at Oregon, and you cannot fault him for that. Please folks. In the future, show some class and accept that he chose Oregon for what it is, not because of some under the table deal.
I get more excited every day for the upcoming football season. It should be one that shows the Beavers moving back towards the top of the conference. The top half of the conference next year will consist of Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, and USC. That's about all I will predict at this point. Washington and Washington State will battle for the conference's best offense. The best defense in the conference will be in Corvallis. USC will be the biggest competitor in that category. The Trojans could be solid next year, but Carson Palmer will have to learn to make better decisions under pressure. He did not have the benefit of a good offensive line. Anyone that watched the Las Vegas Bowl will tell you that it does not matter how good a defense you have or if you have the best safety in the country in Troy Polamalu if your offense cannot get anything done. Pete Carroll has some work to do in this category. But whatever happens, it will be another interesting year in the Pac-10. It could prove to once again be the strongest conference from top to bottom.
Recruiting, Toeiaina, and 2002 Football
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