SPRING: Six to watch on defense

THERE ARE PLENTY of questions headed into spring ball for the Beavers. And some of the most compelling center around these six on defense for Oregon State. The answers to those questions start today, as Oregon State kicks off the spring session later today in Corvallis.

#6.  LB David Pa'aluhi | So., 5-11, 229

It's not surprising that Pa'aluhi is one of the most physical players on the team - he was a mixed martial arts fighter in high school winning nine of his 10 bouts.

The 5-11, 229-pound player will be transitioning into the the starting middle linebacker spot and strong play from him is important to a defense who is replacing its entire secondary and three of four starters on the defensive line.


#5.  CB Brandon Hardin | So., 6-2, 206

Hardin had some big hits on special teams last year and is the team's top returning special team's tackler (13). Often at Oregon State, a special team's standout transitions well into a full time player.

One of the cornerback positions is up for grabs and although Hardin is young the coaches love his size and aggressive nature.


#4.  DE Ben Terry | Sr., 6-2, 243

There is a huge statistical and leadership void left with Slade Norris and Victor Butler graduating. Terry is one of the most experienced players by default and it is important for him step into a leadership role on the defensive line.

As a backup last year he posted 11 tackles, including one for loss. He also improved as he received more playing time, but he will need to step his game up significantly if the Beavs hope to be one of the nation's sack leaders again.



#3.  DT Sioeli Nau | Sr. 6-2, 307

This will be Nau's third spring practice at Oregon State after transferring from Snow College in 2007. He received plenty of playing time last season and knows the system well as he started in spring camp as Pernell Booth recovered on the sidelines.

With three of four defensive line starters moving on dependable play from Nau is needed to solidify the depth chart and take some heat away from Stephen Paea, who will be the focal point of team's offensive lines.

Since Nau will be seeing plenty of single coverage he needs make his presence felt.


#2.  CB James Dockery | So., 5-22, 229

An injury riddled career has limited Dockery's playing time and until now precluded his climb on the depth chart.

Although his injuries have slowed him down, when he is healthy, the coaches rave about him. He has great range, makes heady plays on the ball when it is in the air and is dangerous with the pigskin in his hands.

If Dockery stays healthy, Beaver Nation could be in for a very nice surprise.


#1.  DE Gabe Miller | Jr., 6-3, 231

Miller is one of the most athletic players on the team and should acclimate faster than most in switching from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side.

In fact, coach Mike Riley originally envisioned Miller playing defensive end when he signed with the Black and Orange back in 2006.

With Kevin Frahm and Ben Terry being the only two defensive ends with playing experience Miller's addition to the depth chart is much needed.

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