The good, the bad, the question: LB

OREGON STATE IS again replacing a number of starters on defense but one spot that is fairly flush with experienced talent -- linebacker. Mike Riley calls Keaton Kristick one of the premier strongside 'backers in the Pac-10. David Pa'aluhi had an exceptionally productive season in '08 and Keith Pankey and Dwight Roberson both return as well. Plus, there's rising talent waiting in the wings..

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Senior Keaton Kristick is back after earning second team All-Pac-10 honors. 

Juniors Keith Pankey and Dwight Roberson both return after splitting playing time.  Sophomore David Pa'aluhi III turned in a very solid redshirt freshman season and should transition nicely into a starting role at middle linebacker

Add in home grown products Tony Wilson, Keo Camat and Zane Norris to the mix and there is plenty of hungry talent behind the starters.


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One is hard pressed to find many negatives headed into spring ball.

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Will Roberson overtake Pankey at weakside linebacker for the starting job?

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David Pa'aluhi.  Nasty, physical and with a nose for the ball, Pa'aluhi has many Beaver fans excited about what the future holds for him.

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Like most years, the strength of the defense is often found with the linebackers. Kristick has the most experience with 13 straight starts and will make a run at first team all-conference honors. He is a smart player with good read and react skills, aggressive and should be near the top of the Pac-10 in tackles.

Pankey also started all 13 games, but could lose his starting job to Roberson who saw significant time after the Penn State game. Roberson had a bang up year as a backup recording 61 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and forcing three fumbles. Pankey is quick for a WIL linebacker and there are reasons he earned the starting job. But he has at times also taken the wrong angle and glanced off the bigger players while Roberson has gotten in better position and with a solid upper body, often knocks players backwards.

Might a platoon system at WIL continue to be the answer? Roberson did play well off of the bench and as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Stay tuned.

The coaches played around with the idea of throwing Kristick back to the middle of the field, but Pa'aluhi's impressive play has seemingly put that idea to rest. In fact, it could be argued that the coaches are so confident of Pa'aluhi's ability, along with backup Tony Wilson's, that they allowed Will Darkins to switch to running back.

Other players expected to get plenty of snaps this spring are redshirt frosh Zane Norris, junior Keo Camat, whom Riley has raved about in the past but has yet to see much playing time, Wilsonanother redshirt frosh and junior Walker Vave.


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"We have (Kristick) penciled in as an outside 'backer, with Pa'aluhi in the middle, and then Pankey and Roberson sharing that (WIL) position again. Now, that, as we go through spring, or fall camp, that could change."
 
"We feel good about Pa'aluhi but he hasn't been the starter, but we feel really good (about him), he's played a lot. And of course Keaton I think is one of the premier players in the conference at that position...and then we're excited about Zane Norris, Tony Wilson and Krebs makes three freshmen that redshirted this past year."
 
"Tony Wilson will back up the middle, Zane Norris will back up Keaton. Another freshman, Kameron Krebs will be an outside 'backer...we're talking about Keo Camat, taking a look at him in the middle."

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  • Sr. Keaton Kristick (6-3, 226) - team's returning leading tackler after finishing with 82 stops, 14.0 for loss, including 3.5 sacks and four pass breakups...aggressive and a solid hitter...can cover receivers and provide run support
     
  • Jr. Keith Pankey  (6-0, 211) - third leading returning tackler after making 43 tackles including 5.5 for loss...quick and a good nose for the ball but gets swallowed up by bigger players
     
  • Jr. Dwight Roberson (6-0, 238) - second leading returning tackler after coming off of the bench...61 tackles, 7.5 for loss and three forced fumbles...solid at wrapping up the opposition...tracks the ball carrier well and delivers a solid hit
     
  • RFr. Kameron Krebs (6-0, 193) - redshirted last year and will play outside linebacker
     
  • So. Paul Jones (6-2, 207) - out for spring practice with a knee injury...played in one game getting one tackle
     
  • So. David Pa'aluhi (5-11, 229) - had one one of the better years for an underclassmen last year...tallied 19 tackles, including four for loss...has a knack for being at the right place at the right time...plays very physical...a beast in the weight room
     
  • RFr. Tony Wilson (6-1, 219) - will backup Pa'aluhi at middle linebacker...redshirted last year
     
  • Jr. Walker Vave (6-2, 230) - played in three games grabbing one tackle...expected to transition into a bigger role this season
     
  • Jr. Keo Camat (6-2, 233) - coaches have repeatedly said that he is too good to keep off of the field, but played in just three games last year getting two tackles
     
  • RFr. Zane Norris (6-2, 200) - younger brother of Slade Norris...redshirted last year

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