The good, the bad, the question: DL

The Oregon State defensive line is packed with underclassmen and April was a time for the youngsters to make a case for playing time. Junior college transfer Stephen Paea impressed as well as senior Victor Butler, but the two deeps across the board remain muddled.

The good: The veterans - Victor Butler and Slade Norris - looked fantastic. In shape, dominate and taking a leadership role among the many underclassman. In the scrimmages Butler was pretty much unstoppable off the edge.

Underclassmen Kevin Frahm and Carl Sommer both turned in solid springs as Frahm has a motor that just doesn't quit while Sommer has good quickness off of the edge. Senior Keith Robertson is in the best shape since coming to Oregon State, but still hasn't broken through yet.

Junior college transfer Stephen Paea was one of the best surprises in fall camp. He is a rock in the middle with excellent lower and upper body strength and the great thing he is just a sophomore who is still pretty raw.

Senior Pernell Booth roamed the sidelines as he healed from a high left ankle sprain.

The bad: Depth and experience. None of the younger players stepped up and the coaches have openly admitted they need Simi Kuli and Ben Terry to come into fall camp in shape and ready to start or the defensive ends are in trouble.

The question: Who are the underclassmen that will step up and fill the two deeps?

Top spring performer: Stephen Paea, Victor Butler.

Riley says: "Our two defensive ends have a ton of quickness - Victor Butler will show up all of the time. We will lean on those guys and they will respond because they are among the hardest workers on this team on and off the field. Simi is coming in to be a starter."

Banker says: "All and all for 15 days we are pleased, but we can't judge where we are going to be after the first five seasons with that group because until they are under fire we won't know exactly how good we will be.  We know possibly how good we can be, but to go on potential would be foolish.  We are going to play to their attributes and use them and their skills to the best of their abilities to give us the same end result, but maybe a different way to get there."

The roster:

  • Jr. Siolei Nau (6-2, 312) - starter at tackle during spring in Booth's absence...will be one of the first tackles off of the bench...a run stopping specialist.
     
  • Sr. Victor Butler (6-2, 235) - a leader, confident, vocal and dominating...how will he adjust to being the center of attention - first indication is that he will excel...very quick off of the edge...athletic and can run well with the ball...a post season honors candidate.
     
  • So. Stephen Paea (6-1, 303) - starter at tackle, has only played football for three years...aggressive pass rusher, very strong...Seamalo says: "He's a bright kid, and Pernell and coach Breckterfield have been guiding him the right way. He picks up things quickly. He got through Snow College fast, so learning our defense shouldn't be a problem. He will be a cornerstone guy for us for a long time."
     
  • Sr. Pernell Booth (6-1, 303) - sat out spring but expected to be at full speed in the fall...slated as a starter at one of the tackle positions...one of the most experienced defensive linemen on the team with 16 games, including all 14 last year, under his belt.
     
  • RFr. Castro Masaniai (6-2, 298) - another hard working Polynesian who plays until the whistle blows...joined the team in January...will most likely redshirt, but suit up on game days just in case.
     
  • So. Evan Hull (6-4, 257) - a walk on who may be asked to move on to make room for junior college transfers.
     
  • RFr. Carl Sommer (6-4, 236) - had a good spring game...quick off of the edge...in the mix at defensive end, although most likely will have to wait another season before significant playing time - depending on how Terry and Kuli pan out.
     
  • RFr. Tonu Tuimalealiifano (6-1, 259) - missed last half of spring due to a knee injury...will have surgery on knee but is expected to be back...was in the rotation at defensive end before being injured.
     
  • Sr. Keith Roberston (6-2, 260) - missed a couple of practices with a knee injury...in his best shape since arriving in Corvallis...must put in a good fall camp to earn playing time.
     
  • Fr. Chris Dodson (6-0, 235) - walk on who may be asked to move on to make room for junior college transfers.
     
  • So. Tom Hansen (6-1, 239) - ready to be in the rotation, had a decent spring
     
  • RFr. Kyle Bell (6-2, 266) - a year out from being ready to be in the rotation...redshirted in 2007 after injuring his shoulder in practice.
     
  • RFr. Kevin Frahm (6-2, 249) - had a good spring, ready to be in the rotation...strong and a good first step...reminds fans of Jeff Van Orsow.
     
  • Sr. Slade Norris (6-3, 245) - will still be a pass rushing specialist off of the bench...ripped, confident, a leader for the younger players
     
  • Jr. Latu Moala (6-1, 292) - junior college transfer who has been in the system for a year...must step up or be buried on the depth chart.
     
  • Fr. Jesse Fifita (6-1, 283) - good sized true freshman with a good motor...could push for playing time but will most likely redshirt.
     
  • So. Mitchel Hunt (6-2, 271) - knee injury slowed him down last year...in the mix at tackle.

Coming in the fall: DE Ben Terry, a good sized player with speed and knows how to use his hands, DE Simi Kuli, considered the top JUCO recruit in the nation, expected to start if he makes it to Corvallis.

Additional notes: Banker says it is critical that Kuli and Terry hit the ground running when they arrive on campus.  Weather the defensive line uses a high rotation rate depends on weather they perform well or not.


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