|Depth chart beginning of April:|
|Depth chart start of August:|
SE: Sammie Stroughter, Kyle Brown, Aaron Nichols, Matt Sieverson, Sam Oltman
SL: Brandon Powers, Shane Morales, Casey Kjos, Taylor Kavanaugh
FL: Anthony Brown, Chris Johnson, Damola Adeniji, Lahaina Olsen-Kuroda, Matt Frosland
TE: Howard Croom, John Reese, Brady Camp, Gabe Miller, Jake Hermeling, Dan Weis, Joe Halahuni
- Casey Kjos - sat out the entire month recovering back surgery
- Matt Sieverson - sat out the entire month resting his shoulder
- Brandon Powers - missed several practices with a bruised thigh
- Chris Johnson - missed several practices due to a family emergency
- Gabe Miller - practiced in some drills, but was limited in contact drills as he works back from an Achilles heel injury
This crew of wide receivers is one of the strongest groups on the team in terms of depth. Two starters and one part time starter return along with a host of players who have been in the system for several seasons.
The unit is led by senior Sammie Stroughter, one of the top receivers in the nation, who earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors twice last season, once as a receiver and one as a punter returner - the only player in the Pac-10 to do so.
Stroughter has emerged as the leader of the offense and the team. A good example of how Sammie has taken over as a leader is him grabbing linebacker Isaiah Cook after a late hit on tight end John Reese, coercing an apology from Cook.
A third team All-American last year, Stroughter is a trenchant threat both in long and short yardage situations. Add a good pair of hands, speed, elusiveness and quick feet to that and you have the most feared offensive player in the lineup. He will see double and triple teams on a constant basis.
With one of the opponent's eye towards stopping Stroughter and the other towards slowing down Yvenson Bernard that means one of the receivers will be facing single coverage almost every down. One player that could capitalize on the single coverage is Anthony Brown.
Brown has plenty of experience with 29 starts under his belt but has struggled through injuries in 2005 and off field problems in 2006. Despite his setbacks he has grabbed 94 catches for 1119 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons in Corvallis.
This spring Brown turned in one of the better practices of the receivers consistently getting open as the defense focused on Stroughter - exactly what he needs to do during the season. If Brown can stay healthy and keep in line off of the field he could have a big year.
Another player who should see more passes come his way is Brandon Powers in the slot. Although he is primarily used for blocking Powers does have an excellent set of hands and isn't afriad to go across the middle as he showed during the Sun Bowl several times. His big body and heady play are excellent assets that are often overlooked but key to both a successful passing and running game.
Unlike last year the team is two deep at every spot. At split end Kyle Brown has a big body and is improving, but still needs to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and separate himself from the defensive backs.
Aaron Nichols, another split end, had a good spring as he showed reliable hands and a knack for getting open. He was consistent and led all receivers in the first scrimmage where the offense really struggled.
Nichols also added a touchdown in the second scrimmage and another 57 yards in the spring game. The walk on made some athletic grabs during practices and just might get some playing time.
Backing up Powers in the slot is Shane Morales who had a good spring as well, with the exception of a few dropped passes. Taylor Kavanaugh was solid too, although he didn't get many chances to display his abilities.
The speedy Chris Johnson fills in Reuben Jackson's spot just fine as he, along with Stroughter, will be involved in reverses and other assorted trick plays. Johnson could be that deep threat the Beavers have missed for several years taking some pressure off of Stroughter.
The biggest surprise of the spring was the emergence of Orange Coast transfer Damola Adeniji. Adeniji has the size and strength of a pro level receiver and with proper seasoning could turn out to be a force. He had some spectacular catches and plays in the second scrimmage.
The others who make up the group are Sam Oltman, who caught the only touchdown pass in the first scrimmage and another in the spring game and Lahaina Olsen-Kuroda and Matt Frosland who both face an uphill battle for playing time.
Matt Sieverson and Casey Kjos both sat out with injuries and are expected to be back for fall camp. Watch Kjos as he could rapidly move up the depth chart.
Converted quarterback Mana Silva decided to leave the program and transfer to University of Hawaii to be closer to family recently.
On the tight end side of things the focus was on blocking where Howard Croom and John Reese received the majority of the repetitions. They both know they can run and catch, but their blocking skills will take them to the next level.
Each played last year on special teams with Croom getting the only catch making one grab for three yards in the home opener against Eastern Washington.
Oregon high school standout and bruiser Brady Camp is also in the mix along with Gabe Miller who participated in some drills, but stayed out of scrimmages as he slowly rehabs from his Achilles heel injury. This was Miller's second injury of his Achilles heel and it will be interesting to see if he fully trusts his movements.
If Miller is healthy the coaches expect him to compete for playing time. With the team running a lot of two tight end sets the coaches want four tight ends to be game ready. If Miller still needs more time walk on Jake Hermeling, who had a good spring showing with his blue collar work ethic, will be the fourth man in the rotation.
Joe Halahuni is in a similar situation to linebacker Walker Vave as he gets back into football shape. The coaches will evaluate him this fall. The hard working Dan Weis is currently lost on the depth chart, although he does have some game experience.
|Top spring performer:|
WR Sammie Stroughter. A couple of years ago I remember watching Beaver great Mike Hass in spring and fall camps during his senior year. He clearly was the best receiver on the team, never going through the motions and constantly impressing the fans, his coaches and teammates. Stroughter is in a similar spot.
He is head and shoulders above his receiving brethren, has eared the respect of the entire team and has a lot of fun doing it. Damola Adeniji gets a special mention for his efforts.
TE Howard Croom and John Reese. Both can run and catch and with that in mind they devoted themselves to improving their blocking ability. Kudos to the youngsters for realizing what may not be the most glamorous part of the game, but one of the most important.
|WR/TE spring summary in three sentences or less:|
WR: A unit led by seniors backed up by talented underclass men. The depth at each position is almost three deep and everyone got better as the spring camp progressed. The wide receivers will definitely open up the running game.
TE: A young group with a lot to prove and big shoes to fill. They have taken the necessary steps off of the field to be successful on the field, but must prove their practice paid off in game situations.
Overall on the wide receivers - "They have had a good start. It sure has been an easy start because we have really got two deep here that know the offense so we were able to come out the first few days, run a few plays and look like football, which is always nice. These guys have made it comfortable."
On Stroughter - "He is one of the all-time hardest workers. He is a great example for all these guys."
Miller facing a mental block coming back – “He will have to fight through a little bit of hesitancy. He has done a great job and has tested well on these things. We are going to put him right in there (with the other tight ends in the fall). It is a good, young group. Young is a little scary, but not the character or talent. That is a good group of kids who will eventually, and I hope very soon, will be a very good crew of tight ends.”
Overall on the tight ends – “They have all shown some sparks. You see them light up once and a while…consistency at that position is key, and they are not going to be there yet because they are too inexperience, they haven’t see it all. But, the talent combined with the work ethic and character – these guys are going to be fine. They’ve got to be in a way because they are one of those missing things for the offense. It is a big deal for us that they do well and I think they will.”
|Who's coming in the fall:|
Catchings has one year to learn from one of the better receivers in college football. Hopefully the youngster is a quick study as he is being prepped as the next great receiver to don the Orange and Black.
Rodgers is undersized, but fast and plays with a chip on his shoulder, a perfect fit at OSU.
|Additional links :|