Recruiting Road Map - Defense

WHILE THE OFFENSIVE side of the ball seems relatively set in many areas, (although things can and do change and remain in flux all the way up until that first Wednesday in February), there is still plenty of recruiting yet to be finalized on the defensive side of the ball -- in particular, the coaches focus' figures to be on filling gaps on the defensive line.

- Defensive Tackle -
Currently on scholarship: 6 | Recruiting priority: 10 | Look to sign: 2
Verbal: -

Pernnell Booth is the only departing senior and Stephen Paea, who has one starting spot locked down, is around for two more years.

Walk on Brennan Olander, who is going to receive a scholarship in 2009, seems to have the upper hand for the other tackle spot although experienced backups Mitchel Hunt and Sioeli Nau will get a shot at the starting position.

The coaches expect Jesse Fifita, who redshirted, to push for playing time.

The number one priority for the coaching staff right now is defensive tackle as they don't have one verbal from a DT. 

Currently they are going after, among others, Utah's Latu Heimula. JUCO Myles Wade, who OSU courted back when he was coming out of Portland's Central Catholic a couple years back does not, at this point, appear to be on the Beavs' radar this time around.


- Defensive End -
Currently on scholarship: 9 | Recruiting priority: 7 | Look to sign: 2-3
Verbal: Josh Kaiwi, Mana Rosa

Two of the most productive defensive ends in the program's history graduate in Victor Butler and Slade Norris.

Both end spots will be opened up for competition although Ben Terry and Kevin Frahm received the majority of the snaps as backups in 2008. and therefore have the upper hand.

Behind Terry and Frahm are a pair of players - Latu Moala and Tom Hansen - who have both been in the system for at least two years and are looking to get in on the rotation.

Kyle Bell, I'amafana Tuimalealiifano, and Taylor Henry are a trio of young players who are also looking to break into the two deeps.   The coaches like Tuimalealiifano's potential.

Transfer Matt LaGrone, who will be awarded a scholarship in 2009, is expected to push for playing time as well.

With Moala and Terry gone after 2009 getting at least two young players in the system is a must.  Alaska's Josh Kaiwi and Hawaii's Mana Rosa are the two current verbals, but the coaches would really like to add a third.

At the top of their list is Phoenix College's Tavita Finau and  Polytechnic's Iuta Tepa who is a soft verbal to Hawaii.

The team is still hoping Simi Kuli can get qualified which would a huge boost to this group and round out the class nicely.


- Linebacker -
Currently on scholarship: 8 | Recruiting priority: 0 | Look to sign: 2-3
Verbal: Rueben Robinson, Michael Doctor

Longtime backups Dennis Christopher and Isaiah Cook graduate along with starting middle linebacker Bryant Cornell.

All-Pac-10 pick Keaton Kristick returns along with starter Keith Pankey.

Standout backups Dwight Roberson and David Pa'aluhi III, the incumbent for middle linebacker, also return having turned in excellent years.

Keo Camat is still waiting for his chance to shine while Oregonians Will Darkins and Tony Wilson look to get in the rotation.

With Kristick being the only player to graduate in 2009 OSU is loaded with talent until 2011, but getting young players in the system is a must not only for their development but also for solid special teams play.

Rueben Robinson and Michael Doctor fit the mold as future standouts on special teams before transitioning into staring roles, but the coaches still have their eyes on Canadian Boseko Lokombo and Cheyenne High's Damien Proby.


- Safety -
Currently on scholarship: 5 | Recruiting priority: 0 | Look to sign: 2-3
Verbal: Kyrell Hudson, Zeke Sanders, Jovan Stevenson

Starters Al Afalava and Greg Laybourn are gone as the coaches will open up both starting spots. 

Suaesi Tuimaunei, Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell all received valuable playing time in 2008 and are the front runners for the starting spots, but don't count out James Dockery who sat out 2008 recovering from a knee injury.  Also, it is worth noting that Collins could be moved to linebacker.

Kyrell Hudson may not sign with the Beavers and instead opt for a minor league baseball contract while Zeke Sanders may end up on the offensive side of the ball. 

Jovan Stevenson,orginally a running back recruit, verballed last year, will enroll in January and work out with the safeties.

The good thing is that with Tuimaunei and Dockery are around for two more years and Mitchell and Collins around for three more.

Luckily the coaches have plenty of time to figure out where Sanders and Stevenson fit in and there are no worries if Hudson decides to go pro in baseball.


- Cornerback --
Currently on scholarship: 7 | Recruiting priority: 4 | Look to sign: 2
Verbal: Sean Martin, Conroy Black

Longtime starters Brandon Hughes, an All-Pac-10 selection, and Keenan Lewis graduate leaving both cornerback spots open.

Dependable and experienced backup Tim Clark has one spot seemingly locked up with the talented Brandon Hardin, who could moved to safety, and big time recruit David Ross set to duke it out for the other spot.

Dockery could also play a factor.  Josh LaGrone redshirted, but won't get a shot at a starting spot for a while.

Speedster Keynan Parker has worked out with both the receivers and cornerbacks but is expected to stay on the defensive side of the ball.

Sean Martin and Conroy Black are the two cornerback verbals, but Black, the only JUCO verbal, is a soft verbal who is leaning towards SMU at the moment.


- Punter -
Currently on scholarship: 0 | Recruiting priority: 0  | Look to sign: 0
Verbal: -

Johnny Hekker struggled at times, but finished the season strong and the coaches still have confidence in him.

He will have to kick better though if he wants his schooling paid for.

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