Rodgers, Katz: To redshirt or not to redshirt

THE QUESTION IS always the same on incoming freshmen. Will they and the program benefit more by having them redshirt their first season, or is their worth more valuable if they play that true freshman year. For a pair of Beavers, Jacquizz Rodgers and Ryan Katz, the answers are different.

COMMENTARY

Despite the emergence of Ryan McCants and, before he was hurt, Jeremy Francis, coach Mike Riley has been consistent, since Signing Day, in saying he expects Jacquizz Rodgers to earn playing time.

As long as Rodgers comes in and performs as expected, the Beaver Nation should expect to see him this year.

And if heady comparisons prove even partially true -- Rodgers has been compared to Barry Sanders by his prep coaches -- expect to see a lot of him this season for Oregon State.

Riley is, naturally, loathe to make such comparisons, not wanting to put unrealistic expectations on a true freshman, (and Riley similarly demurs on McCants-Steven Jackson comparisons).

Rodgers is on record as saying he doesn't want to redshirt but that's not the main consideration here. The focus is on whether he can help the offense move the chains and put numbers up on the board.

And all indications have been that Rodgers can help the Beavers from the get go.

Francis' injury this spring also brings another dynamic into play. Consider a scenario where a player like Rodgers was redshirted but then injuries hit the running back spot hard in Week 8 while the Beavs were fighting for a bowl berth. Burning the redshirt late in the season in an effort to win a game is an unpalatable option.

It will be interesting as to how Riley and staff would divy up the playing time between three backs who can all produce, but that's also a nice problem to have.

THE SITUATION WITH Ryan Katz is different.

Katz showed plenty of promise this spring but he also has plenty to learn, incoming quarterbacks always do. Katz has huge potential but he isn't ready to challenge for the starting job -- remember, he normally would be completing his senior year in high school right now, but graduated early and enrolled at OSU this January.

It makes more sense for him to redshirt this year, as long as there are agreeable options for the backup spots.

Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield, the latter is rehabbing a shoulder and didn't participate in spring ball, are expected to battle it out again this fall for the starting job. It would follow that those players would hold down the Nos. 1 and 2 jobs coming out of fall camp.

The spring was about seeing how far Katz had come along but it was also just as much about seeing if Brennan Sim or another player could hold down the No. 3 spot.

Sim probably did enough over the course of this spring to give Riley and staff the confidence that he can do just that. And Justin Engstrom looked sharp this past Saturday, although it must be taken in the context that his best moments came in the younger players' scrimmage.

Provided the duo of Moevao and Canfield remain healthy this year, getting Katz only some token appearances this year could mean lament four years down the road.

Katz could develop into a an excellent quarterback for OSU, the spring bore that out, but playing him now would mean he wouldn't have a redshirt senior season. And there have been a lot of fifth year quarterbacks who led their college teams to big things in that fifth year.


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