The good, the bad, the question: Safety

OREGON STATE LOOKS to have more quickness at the safety position this spring but keep in mind the Beavs lose to graduation a pair very solid in run support in '08 -- Al Afalava and Greg Laybourn. Often when a pair of starters are replaced as they are at safety this year, the guy with the most experience behind them slides into a starting role. That isn't the case here for the Beavs this spring.

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A trio of players, Lance Mitchell, Cameron Collins and Suaesi Tuimaueni, received valuable playing time on special teams and in backup roles last season.
 
More quickness looks to be evident at the position this season.
 
 

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Inexperience -- Tuimaueni is the only player with a start.
 
Oregon State was stout in run support from the safety position and loses a lot there with Al Afalava and Greg Laybourn graduating, the latter a multiple Pac-10 POW award winner last season.
 
 

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How seamlessly can Oregon State make the transition to two new starters at safety? Are LaGrone and others ready to make a leap?

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Cameron Collins.  A gifted player who will give offenses headaches.  Quick, plus long enough to go into coverage, and big enough to attack at the line of scrimmage and help shut down the run.

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Despite two starters graduating the coaches are quietly optimistic that the younger players can pick up the slack.

Mitchell and Collins start the spring as the named starters, but Tuimaueni has the most experience and the coaches really liked how Josh LaGrone performed on the scout team.

Tuimaueni is in the Al Afalava mold - slightly undersized, but makes receivers think before coming across the middle.  Mitchell is one of the more athletic players on the team with a nose for the ball. 

Collins is a long specimen who spent some time at the line of scrimmage as a hybrid linebacker/safety last season - a role that he could repeat.  He could also slide nicely into the nickel back role.

LaGrone may have to make his mark initially on special teams, but the coaches have said repeatedly that they like the way he plays.


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"Lance Mitchell and Suaesi would be slated as starters, backed up by Josh Lagrone and Cameron Collins, and then backed up by Anthony Watkins, who was hurt, but will be ready for spring ball."
 
"Cameron Collins could probably play linebacker, but we're going to explore more safety."
 
"I'm really excited about Josh LaGrone at safety, who redshirted."

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  • So. Lance Mitchell (6-2, 205) - eight tackles on special teams, second most of the returning players...11 tackles overall...played in all 13 games last season...aggressive, a big hitter...considered a front runner for one of the starting safety positions
     
  • So. Cameron Collins (6-2, 216) - considered a front runner for one of the starting safety positions...very athletic...also a big hitter...could move to linebacker...13 tackles in 12 games
     
  • RFr. Anthony Watkins (6-1, 214) - brother of Brian Watkins...redshirted last year
     
  • Jr. Suaesi Tuimaueni (6-1, 208) - started two games and played in 12...15 tackles, including one for loss last year...another big hitter with no regard for his body
     
  • RFr. Josh LaGrone (6-1, 181) - younger brother of defensive end Matt LaGrone...coaches have singled him out as a strong performer on the scout team...keep on eye on him during special teams play...redshirted last year

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