THREE VERBAL COMMITS: Beavs hit trifecta

OREGON STATE continues to finish strong as February's Letter of Intent Day approaches. The Beavers have secured verbal commitments from three more California standouts -- a tackling machine of a linebacker, a defensive end and pass rushing specialist and a versatile athlete who could play either on defense or offense for the Black and Orange. And all three are from the same high school.

Kyle Bell (6-4, 225, 4.56), out of Visalia's Mt. Whitney High, had made a verbal commitment to Fresno State last month but during his trip to Oregon State this past weekend, gave Mike Riley and staff an enthusiastic thumbs up and climbed aboard yesterday. He wasn't the only one, as two more playmakers, Keith Pankey and Kevin Pankey, fraternal twins and sons of former NFL All-Pro Irv Pankey, also verbally committed to the Beavs.

The trio has been inseparable since the fourth grade and now the best friends will have the chance to continue their college years together when they sign their Letters of Intent to OSU on February 7. All three are in fine shape academically.

BELL SAID THE trip to Oregon State for himself, Kevin and Keith -- who racked up a ridiculous 189 tackles this season -- blew them all away.

"The facilities, they're top notch," said Bell. "The players were great -- my host, Timi Oshinowo, all the players were pretty genuine. They weren't trying to "sell" Oregon State to us, they just let us decide. The coaching staff was great and the fact that it's a small town, the town just shuts down for Beaver Football. They're extremely dedicated to the football team."

Bell and the Pankeys gave Riley the good news at the end of the visit on Sunday and got a big bear hug from the Beavers' head man in return.

"He was ecstatic," said Bell. "They like my pass rushing ability."

THERE IS REASON to believe the Beavs have unearthed a gem in Bell. It took until a few games into this season before Bell, who had been playing for Mt. Whitney as a 6-4, 225-pound receiver. But when he was moved to the defensive line and put his hand down, he took to it as if he was born to play the position.

Complete season stats were unavailable for Bell, but suffice to say he wreaked havoc in the opponents' backfield from Day One.

"I only started on defense as of the third game of the season," said Bell. "Until that time, I had been sharing time at receiver and had never been able to play defense my freshman and sophomore years. My very first play on defense when I came in, it went for a sack."

Bell, and Keith and Kevin Pankey, helped lead Mt. Whitney to the Central Section D-II Valley Championship, said he chose Oregon State over offers from Fresno State, Nevada and Sacramento State.

Bell was also a standout in track and field his sophomore year, competing in the shot and discuss, but chose to focus year round on football the past two season. Now headed to play big time college ball in the Pac-10, it certainly appears the move paid off.

Note: For Part II on Kevin and Keith Pankey, click here here

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