Fall Camp Focus: Five to watch on defense

WITH A NEW starting front seven who will take the field from last year's vaunted black and orange defense, here are five players who merit keeping a close eye on as fall camp gets underway. Indeed, it is their performances that could go a long ways towards determining the '08 bowl aspirations of Oregon State.

1. DT Pernnell Booth (Sr., 6-1, 302)
Roaming the sidelines with his black cane as he recovered from knee surgery isn't exactly what the coaches wanted to see from their most experienced player on the defensive line. But, since he is one of the most experienced players the coaches expect him to not miss a beat come Friday, when fall camp gets underway.

2. S Lance Mitchell (RFr., 6-2, 205) / Cameron Collins (RFr., 6-2, 216)
With Bryan Payton leaving the program and Al Afalava being suspended for the first game of the season, Mitchell's time on the field figured to increased significantly. Interestingly, however, the Portland Tribune reported Monday morning it would be Cameron Collins or sophomore Suaesi Tuimaunei who would start for Afalava against Stanford. Stay tuned to see how it all plays out. Mitchell has the tools to be one of the first off of the bench at safety this season and Riley has called him a smart time player with a nose for the ball.

3. P Johnny Hekker (6-5, 211)
Boy, oh boy, does the team ever need Hekker to come in and perform. After three players booted away during the spring with none separating themselves from the others, the staff is counting on Hekker to alleviate one of the biggest worries on the team. He carried a 36.7 average at Bothell high last year, but adjusting to the speed of the game will be the key here. He spent part of this summer at a punting camp honing his skills.

4. LB Dwight Roberson (So., 6-0, 235)
Riley first started to sing Roberson's praises almost a year ago, saying he expected the fluid player to make a run at a starting linebacking spot in 2008. Roberson has yet to realize that potential heading into fall camp, as sophomore Keith Pankey has been playing extremely well and has earned the starting nod. Still, Riley expects Roberson to make a move this fall.

5. DE Ben Terry (Jr., 6-1, 240)
With highly praised Simi Kuli on the bubble as to whether he'll arrive at OSU and be cleared in time to get ready for the opener, (two weeks into fall camp is looking like the line of demarcation), Terry really needs to come into fall camp a) in great shape and b) ready to push for playing time. He was a first team All-Mission Conference player last year at Saddleback and the defense will need his 4.7 speed. If Kuli doesn't qualify or if he qualifies late and the Beavs decide to redshirt him, Terry needs to play at a high enough level to take a starting spot heading into the season opener at Stanford. Failing that, the defensive line could be in for a long year. If he does excel, however, it could be a solid year up front. Such is the tenuous line between success and disappointment that's shaping up this year at Oregon State on the d-line.

Others of import:
DE Simi Kuli
DT Stephen Paea
S Greg Laybourn


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