Oregon State Spring Football primer

SURE, IT MAY be the offseason but Oregon State football is a year round event and for those going through Beaver football withdrawals, help is on the way -- spring football is almost here. In a little over a month, the sounds of full contact will again echo across the Willamette Valley, all under the watchful eye of Mike Riley and the OSU staff. And there is no shortage of compelling storylines.

The spring football session at Oregon State kicks off on Monday, March 31. The Beavers will practice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for five straight weeks -- with the exception of May 2 -- all culminating in Oregon State's spring game on Saturday, May 3.

Like most springs, there will be no shortage on topics of interest, from position battles and standout performances to matters of recruiting.

HIGH ON THE list for the Beavs is to replace their entire starting defensive front seven from a vaunted unit that ranked No. 8 in the nation in total defense.

Offensively this spring, OSU will be looking to lay the groundwork to improve on a unit that ranked No. 8 in the Pac-10 in both scoring offense and passing offense.

A LARGE INFLUX of Beaver rookies will take part in their first spring session in Corvallis this year. Seven student-athletes earlier enrolled at OSU for the winter term and three of them are defensive linemen -- DT Jesse Fifita, DE Taylor Henry and DL Castro Masaniai (Mah-sahn-ee-I).

Also putting on the pads for the first time as a Beaver will be DB Josh LaGrone, DB Anthony Watkins, TE Colby Prince and OL Rory Ross.

ALL POSITION BATTLES are compelling but there's one spot in particular this spring that might see the most spirited competition.

A blend of experienced veterans and rising youth return at linebacker in '08 -- Bryant Cornell , Dennis Christopher, Isaiah Cook, Keaton Kristick and Keith Pankey all got significant turns last year.

Up and coming redshirt freshmen Will Darkins and David Pa'aluhi III are also expected to mount a challenge for playing time.

OSU WAS A stout No. 4 in the league in rushing last year but Yvenson Bernard and his 1,214 yards are lost to graduation. The good news is Ryan McCants has looked like the real deal -- his performance this spring figures to be one of the most watched.

Game-changer Sammie Stroughter is expected prior to spring ball to receive a medical redshirt for the '07 season from the NCAA. Stroughter racked up 1,293 receiving yards and five touchdowns plus another 470 punt return yards and three scores in '06.

THE MOST VISIBLE position on a football team -- the starting quarterback -- was expected to again see competition for the second straight spring, but that battle has been postponed.

Sean Canfield was to battle it out one more time with Lyle Moevao but Canfield had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. He is expected to be back to full strength in June-July. Canfield started the first seven games of '07 before the injury in the loss to USC, while Moevao as starter led the team to three straight wins.

SPRING BALL IS also about recruiting. OSU tends to play host to prospects throughout the course of the five week session, as opposed to having a large one day event. Indeed, at Oregon State, the whole month of April is "Junior Day".

The primary advantage to the approach is so that coaches can spend more quality time with 2-3 recruits on a Wednesday than they would be able to with 40 recruits on a single Saturday. Schedules being what they are, it can also be a challenge for every recruit to be able to be at OSU on one specific date.

Among the in-state talent who might travel to Corvallis to talk with the Beaver coaching staff, take in a practice and tour Oregon State's facilities is hoss Charles Siddoway. The 6-6.5, 302-pounder out of Eugene's Marist High was offered a scholarship by Riley earlier this month.

  • Six walk-ons will join the Beavers for the spring session looking to author a similar story to that of OSU great and former walk-on Mike Hass. QB Zach Anderson, K Tyler Cope, OL/DL Nick Lewis, RB Jeff Sampson, K/P Sean Sehnem and DB Brian Watkins were those mentioned by Riley last month who will join the program in time for the spring session.

  • Al Afalava's status for the spring remains unclear. The Beaver safety will be suspended for the season opener no matter the outcome of his March 6 court date according to a report in the Corvallis-Gazette. Afalava was charged with DUI, hit-and-run and criminal mischief, for hitting an empty bus shelter and abandoning his vehicle in the early morning hours of Feb. 9.

  • The season opener for the Beavs is Aug. 28 at Stanford. The game will be televised on ESPN2, with the kickoff slated for 6 pm. It is the third OSU game that's been a preliminary selection for TV broadcast -- Sept. 6 at Penn State will be at 12:30 p.m. on either ESPN or ABC. The home tilt against USC on Sept. 25 will be on ESPN with a start time of 6 p.m. ABC/ESPN had 20 selection windows for Pac-10 teams last season on its family of networks.

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