OSU verbal bonds w/staff, others lurking

THE TOP THREE RUNNING BACKS on the 2007 Oregon State depth chart are seniors, including honors candidate Yvenson Bernard. Oregon State verbal commit Jeremy Francis, (6-1, 215, 4.5), is among those slated to compete for the starting job in '08. But verbal commits are not binding, and other schools continue to strongly pursue the El Camino junior college back. Have they turned his head?

Kansas State, Texas A&M and Ole Miss are among those who have continued to recruit Francis since his verbal commitment to Oregon State in June. Do the overtures have Francis rethinking his pledge to the Beavs?

In a word, no.

"I want to let it be known that I'm committed to Oregon State. That's where I'm set in going and I think I made a good decision. And I look forward to it," said Francis.

What makes Francis a sought commodity and why Oregon State identified him early on as a top target is the skills package he brings to the table -- apart from running the ball, Francis is an excellent threat coming out of the backfield.

"They think I can come in and compete right away for the starting position, and to carry the ball as well as receive. I think that's what impressed them the most, me being able to catch the ball as well as I can," he said.

FRANCIS ALSO SAID one of the reasons he's so solid on OSU is the level of commitment the Beavs have shown him since he verballed. He said he talks to OSU at least twice a week, with Gary Beck being the most frequent and then also Nigel Burton.

Gary Beck is a graduate assistant on Mike Riley's staff but he's responsible for the running backs -- see the Gazette Times article.

"I think me and coach Beck, the running backs coach, are becoming really close. And I think that's important, to have that bond with your position coach. He's a good guy and I appreciate him keeping in touch with me. That shows me a lot, that they really care," said Francis, who also noted the favorable opportunity at OSU to earn playing time in '08 as a big plus. Bernard, Matt Sieverson and Clinton Polk, the top three tailbacks on the Beaver depth chart this season, are all seniors.

EL CAMINO THIS season is blessed with considerable running back talent -- four backs have at least 31 carries this season. Francis has the best hands coming out of the backfield -- he is the third leading receiver on the team, and has been well utilized on screens and in key situations, particularly in the win over Saddleback, another Top Ten team in the national JC Gridwire Top 25 poll.

"Our coaches have done a really good job of rotating us," said Francis.

On the ground through six games, Francis has 34 carries for 153 yards, with 13 receptions for another 131 hashes.

THREE WEEKS AGO for the UA game weekend, Francis took his official visit to Oregon State.

"I loved it," he said.

The following week, he watched the OSU-Cal game on TV.

"I was excited. I was there the week before when they played Arizona and they had talked about how they always win at Berkeley against Cal. And I have a teammate, (Verran) Tucker who is going to Cal...so we were joking around about that, I was giving him a hard time," said Francis.

Francis looks to graduate this December, with 3-to-play-2 at Oregon State.

"I'm really looking forward to coming in and helping them in any way possible," he said.

Jeremy Francis profile

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