VERBAL: Kjos coming home to the Northwest

HITTING SIX CAMPS this summer over a span of two weeks, one stood out for Casey Kjos. After visiting Corvallis, he knew Oregon State was where he wanted to be. So when coach Mike Riley offered a scholarship to the Ohio playmaker a couple days following his camp performance, Kjos immediately gave his verbal commitment and became a Beaver. BF.C talks with both Kjos and his prep coach.

Kjos is a Washington native who has lived in Liberty Township, Ohio, the past few years with his cousin, Cincinnati quarterback Jon Kitna. As part of a hectic two week summer camp blitz that covered six schools in three states, Kjos, (pronounced Chos), was in Corvallis on June 27 for the one day camp at OSU.

"I talked to coach Riley after football camp and he really liked me but hadn't gotten a chance to look at my tape yet," said Kjos.

Within two days, Riley had, and when Kjos (6-4, 190) called the head man of the Beavs on the 29th, he extended a scholarship offer which Kjos immediately accepted.

"He offered me at that point and I told him that's where I wanted to go," said Kjos. "He told me not to worry about all the official paperwork and stuff, and just to go out and do what you do."

KJOS CHOSE OREGON STATE over offers from Eastern Michigan and Buffalo. He was also seeing interest from Oregon, Washington State, Washington and Ohio State among others.

"They all said they liked me a lot and just wanted to see a couple games of my senior film," said Kjos.

A key factor in his decision was his faith.

"My family all lives in Washington, and then when I went to the Oregon State camp, I met coach Riley," he explained. "I knew coach Riley was a Christian and I'm a Christian as well so that was a big plus. Then just meeting the other coaches, I just (really connected) with them, all the coaches there.. They're great guys and fun to be around, great guys and they know what they're doing and its a great football program."

KJOS STARS AT both wide receiver and free safety at Lakota East High. Despite going 9-1, Lakota East did not qualify for the playoffs -- Ohio uses a points system to determine playoff entries. On defense, Kjos recorded a team high 5 INTs and also led the team in tackles with 58. Of his 19 catches at receiver, 9 of them went for touchdowns, totaling 396 yards. Kjos worked out at both positions at the OSU camp.

"They said they really liked me at both positions," said Kjos. "Plus, I'm still growing, I'm still maturing physically and depending how big I get, they said they think I might also play tight end."

At wide receiver, Bailie said he has all the physical tools -- speed, hands, route running. But his field smarts are what helps to set him apart.

"The big thing is Casey's got a good understanding of what we're trying to do," said Bailie. "He picks up the concepts really quick. He's a smart kid."

THIS SEASON will be Kjos's third year starting in the secondary. In the Thunderhawks scheme, the safeties are critical to stopping the run. Last year Kjos started to hit his stride, especially in the physical sense.

"He's a good blocker and he's a good defensive player," said Bailie. "So he is physical...Every week (his first year) you'd see him progress and then last year, he was playing the game the way he should be playing it from a physical standpoint."

AN OUTSTANDING STUDENT with a 4.0 GPA, Kjos has achieved a qualifying score on the SAT according to prep coach Greg Bailie, who was on the sideline with Jim Gilstrap, OSU running backs coach, when the pair coached briefly during an interim period at Eastern Michigan in the early 90s.

"Number one, he's a great kid," said Bailie. "He's a great student and a tremendous athlete from the standpoint of his ability -- and also just the way he works and trains."

Bailie went on to say Kjos is a leader on a Lokota East team and senior class stacked with them.

"Just as far as being a team player and a leader, and just his character, I think those are tremendous attributes of his and on top of all that, he's a good player," he said.

KJOS WAS LOOKING to expand his horizons both athletically and academically and the chance to study under Kitna was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.

"Oh, wow, he's taught me numerous things," said Kjos. "I think the greatest thing he's taught me is how to live my life...Football wise, me and him are constantly competing and (working out) and he constantly tells me, 'Think you're the best and play like you're the best. Don't let anybody tell you different.' He's just taught me how to compete."

Bailie agreed, saying Kitna has been key in Kjos's development as a player and a person.

"Jon knows how to go about it," said Bailie. And Casey's been down in that locker room and he knows how to go about it."

OSU has three known verbal commitments in their 2006 class, with Kjos joining OLB Alfred Rowe and OL Ryan Pohl.

Casey Kjos profile

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